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Housing changes could raise rents

By Hou Liqiang | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-19 08:43

Tenants would have the right to send children to top schools where they live

Beijing authorities have begun soliciting public opinion on a draft rental policy aimed at protecting the rights of tenants. The draft, however, has caused anxiety that rents in the capital would rise as it guarantees the education rights of tenants' children in schools around rented homes.

According to the draft, which was published by Beijing housing authorities on Thursday, Beijing's local governments should increase the supply of houses available for rent around industrial parks and on collectively-used land.

The newly-built houses should be rented to those working in the industrial parks or in the vicinity, and the area should be equipped with educational and medical facilities.

"For these newly-built areas with no medical facilities within a five-minute walk, medical facilities should be set once the population in these areas reaches a certain number," said the draft, without specifying what that number should be.

An online supervisory platform will be set up, which will provide house rental information, electronic rental contracts and applications, and supervision of transactions, the draft said.

The draft also guarantees the education rights of tenants' children in schools around rented homes.

It said Beijing residents who do not own houses can apply for their children to receive compulsory education in the area near their rented home, provided that they have lived in the area for at least three years and one of the couple has worked in the area for at least three years.

Non-Beijing residents can also apply for their children to receive compulsory education in the area of their rented houses, according to the draft.

Currently in Beijing, children usually cannot be admitted into schools unless their parents own houses in the area. To guarantee children's admission into key schools, many parents have to buy houses nearby, which has made housing prices near these schools extremely high.

Many netizens have shown anxiety over rising rent as it will be much cheaper to guarantee children a high-quality education by renting a house than buying one, and this could offer house owners near key schools a good reason to raise rents.

"I couldn't afford a house in Beijing. If the draft is passed, I'm afraid I won't be able to afford to rent one," commented one netizen on Sina Weibo. Many netizens also shared the same anxiety.

Yan Yuejin, research director of the E-House China R&D Institute, said it's "highly possible" that the change will result in rising rents.

He estimated that in the final version of the policy the Beijing government will only guarantee the education rights of children of tenants who rent government-subsidized or company-owned apartments, and tenants of privately-owned houses will not enjoy the policy.

Beijing residents renting government-subsidized housing such as public rental houses can have their hukou, or household registration, registered and transferred to the houses, the draft said.

In May, Beijing authorities said they would increase the supply of houses for rent within the next five years, and that 500,000 new houses would be built.

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