Harsher housing rules increase false divorces

Updated: 2013-04-10 17:41


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Harsher rules aimed at cooling the property market have triggered a rise in false divorce in China's big cities, especially among middle-aged and elderly couples, in an attempt to avoid higher down payments or property taxes.

Chen Ru, an official with the marriage registration office in Beijing's Haidian district, said her office was witnessing more divorces, but declined to give figures.

"March was quite unusual, compared with previous months, as more couples got divorced and the majority of divorcees were middle-aged," Chen said.

The State Council, China's cabinet, announced five property control policies in February and brought in the restrictions on March 1, including a 20 percent capital gains tax on home sales and stricter rules on the purchase of a second house.

In Tianjin, 300 couples registered for divorce in one day in March, compared with the average daily figure of 100 divorces, China Youth Daily reported on Wednesday.

Xie Baisan, an observer, said he experienced "a painful mixture of feelings" after leaning that one of his acquaintances had divorced to buy a new house for the couple's child.

Xie said the couple — one is a civil servant and the other a teacher — were worried that housing prices will become too high for the child to buy in the future.

"To dodge tax in buying a second house, divorce is the only way out," Xie was told by the couple, who still live together.

But some couples refuse to take this course.

Wang Ying, who works for Tianjin Medical University, said she bought a second-hand apartment for 850,000 yuan ($94,000) with her husband, China Youth Daily reported.

As it is their second property, the couple has to make a down payment of 50 percent of the house price under the newly announced restrictions. They face a funding shortfall of 125,000 yuan.

Before signing the contract, the property agent kept advising them to divorce so one of them could enjoy a much lower down payment for the purchase of a first property.

Wang said she chose to borrow more money because she considered marriage to be sacred.