a selection of the most frequently asked questions from new Shanghai expats
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What’s the upfront cost of renting an apartment in Shanghai?

Most commonly, tenants pay the rent every 1, 2, or 3 months in advance, and a security deposit of 1 or 2 months at the beginning of the lease. Most times the first payment, covering both the deposit and the first rental payment, amounts to 3 or 4 months in total, which can be a very hefty sum for a newcomer who first needs to transfer funds into China. Please make sure you will have sufficient funds available in China, or communicate well in advance if you need more time. The first payment is normally due at the date the lease starts.
If you work with a real estate agency, there might also be a commission payment of 35% (of the first month’s rent). Please refer to the next point for HAO Realty’s service fee conditions.

What’s the cost of HAO Realty’s service?

For many of our customers we can provide our real estate service (house hunting and follow up service) for free. However, for rentals below 12,000 RMB, a one-time service fee of 35% of the contract value (i.e. rent per month) applies. Please note that conditions like short-term rentals, or very significant discounts on the rent might make it necessary to charge a service fee even for rentals above 12,000 RMB/month.

What does FFC stand for?

FFC is the acronym for the former French Concession, a charming and highly sought-after residential area in Downtown Shanghai. The area was established in 1849 and under administration of the French government, which had significant influence on architecture and city planning.

Why are most rental properties furnished?

As a matter of culture, renting is seen as only a temporary arrangement in China, with a strong desire to own a property – traditionally a new home is bought before marriage. As a consequence, renters don’t stay in the same place for many years and landlords furnish their rental properties for their tenants.

Which housing types are available in Shanghai?

Similar to most cities, you can find apartments such as condos and multi-family buildings, detached or semi-detached houses, and villas. As a city of significant relevance for domestic and international business, Shanghai also offers a large number of serviced apartments that come with full hotel-like household and concierge service. Further, Shanghai is famous for its lane houses, or lao yang fang. Theses houses were build in the former French and British concession areas.

Can I get a lease contract shorter than 12 months?

While the standard leasing term in China is indeed 12 months, there will still be options to arrange accommodation other than hotels. On the one hand we can show you expat-suitable service apartments throughout the city, on the other hand we can try to negotiate a shorter lease term with landlords. However, often a short-term lease is unfavorable for the landlord who will then ask for a higher rent or be less open to discuss any additional requirements from your side.

What if I have to terminate my lease contract before its expiration date?

Details depend on your contract, but most commonly you will lose your deposit, unless you are able to introduce a new tenant who will take over the property.

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