Property Leasing

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In Shanghai,the experience of looking for a nice property sometimes could be pleasant,while sometimes could be disappointing.Because in this market,a good deal of leasing a property not only means its own quality(location,decoration,layout,etc) and price,but also indicates the landlord quality, the agency service quality and whether the whole leasing package is practical to ensure a nice long-run stay.

For our property leasing department,we require ourselves to work under the following core-principles to ensure a good long-run result for our clients:

1.    Judge and select good quality owners,including developer as well as individual landlords,then try to work out a good offer.

2.    Fully listen to and understand what our clients are looking for,and devote right preparation and suggestion.

3.    Ensure timely support to both our clients and landlords during the leasing period.

4.    Widely choose the right properties and work out a good offer.




We often get questions from our clients about the residential maze of Shanghai. Below you will find a selection of the most common, which we hope you will find useful in your home search.


1.How many different types of properties are there inShanghaimarket?

  • Service Apartment(mainly in high rise building)
  • High-rise compound(where most clubhouses are located)
  • Low-rise compound     
  • Villa/House compound
  • Old style apartment,garden house,lanehouse


2.What constitutes a "good deal" on a rental, and how do I know that the price is fair?

Rents inShanghaivary depending on many factors. Key points include:

  • Location
  • Size
  • Layout
  • Quality of renovation/fit-out
  • Old/new
  • Facilities
  • Outdoor space

A property's location not only refers to the area/district but also to whether it is directly on a noisy road or tucked away on a quiet lane, who the neighbours are (international or local community), and how close it is to shopping/entertainment etc. The most important location factor when it comes to high-rise buildings is the floor the apartment is on,the lower the cheaper, as high floors usually come with fresh air, lots of light and sunshine, nicer views and quieter surroundings.

Historical buildings with old renovated apartments (typically within the former concession areas of Shanghai) are more expensive than units in new residential compounds, despite sometimes suffering from rusty water pipes and insufficient electricity to power an expat family's air conditioner use in the hot summer months. A new villa or apartment downtown costs about twice as much as a similar place in Pudong or Hongqiao.


3.What kind of deposit do I have to pay for my new home?

Two months rental is the standard. Some landlords will ask for moredo not accept it!


4.What extra costs, such as utilities, should I include in my budget besides the rent?

Utilities cover water, gas, electricity, phone, ADSL and satellite TV fee.

In addition, some landlords will charge you a management fee. The management fee covers security, cleaning and maintenance of communal areas, access to facilities (such as a pool, gym and/or children's playground) and building administration.

If you need a parking space you will usually have to pay an extra monthly fee on top of your rent.

5.Is the rental price negotiable?

There is some negotiability depending on the terms of the contract. For example if you can move in immediately, do not need furniture and there are not additional requirements you will almost definitely get a better rental than if you want to move in after 6 weeks, need additional furniture to what is in the property and request some renovation or repairs.

Additionally,an agent's good ability and charming personality will cause potential advantage in the final offer.

6.What currency is used for rent payment?

Usually, rents are paid in RMB. This matter is subject to negotiation with your landlord. Very few landlords now accept USD as the exchange rate is changing.


7.How does a landlord select a tenant?How can I secure a contract if there are other interested parties?

An important thing to keep in mind when you deal with a private landlord (as opposed to the expat-focused compounds which have their own management/leasing teams) is that you are about to rent someone's home or someone's investment. You will be evaluated on criteria such as your appearance, income, nationality etc. The bottom line for a landlord is "will this person be able to pay the rent on time every month?" and "will my property be well taken care of?"

If a landlord has two potential tenants to choose from, you can be sure that it will not be the bachelor who asks if it is ok that he throws parties every weekend who ends up signing the contract. Make an effort to give your future landlord a good impression of you and your intentions, and try to maintain a good relationship after you move in as well.

In some cases, a popular property with several qualified parties ready to sign, the landlord's choice will be determined by who can offer the landlord the best terms, such as the highest rent or the longest lease term.

8.What is the minimum lease term inShanghai?

Most private landlords and compounds catering to expats will not accept lease terms of less than 12 months. If you can sign a lease contract of 2-3 years it gives you the benefit of a slightly reduced rent.

Shanghai has a limited selection of serviced apartments for short-term rentals, but these are significantly more expensive than 1-2 year leases.

9.Is it worthwhile to find a cheap place and then renovate it myself?

Most landlords who want to rent out their property prefer to renovate it themselves, and spend a lot of time and money doing so before they submit it to an agency. This is particularly the norm for the areas which are popular for expat housing, such as downtown, Hongqiao and Pudong.

However, the outskirts of Shanghai ("local" districts) offer limited property which is up to the standard that an expat would expect, and since housing in these areas is very cheap it might be worth to keep an eye out for a place that can be rented for a very low amount and then fix it up yourself.

If you opt for this solution, make sure that you:
1.    get a long-term lease;
2.    specify in the contract that you have the landlord's permission to make alterations/additions to the existing layout;
3.    add an extra clause in your contract which states that if the landlord terminates the lease agreement prematurely, you are entitled to have your expenses for the renovation work covered.

10.Do I have to pay commission if I find a property with Star?

No. Legally in Shanghai the agency fee is a total of 70% of one month's rent, and the tenant and landlord have to bear 35% each, respectively. However, in reality market if the property you are renting is above RMB 8,000, no agency fees will be paid by the tenant. Star will not charge tenant agency fee.

12.Who pays for legal fees in connection with a lease?

There are no legal services or lawyers required to sign a lease agreement in Shanghai. Should either party request legal counsel, they will be responsible for covering their own costs.


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supporting your life and business better in Shanghai.
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