Guideline to better supervise rental properties

Updated: 2013-11-13 07:27

By Cao Yin (China Daily)

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Beijing legal officials said on Tuesday that they plan to issue a judicial guideline for housing authorities soon on the registration and supervision of tenants in rental properties, a move aimed at reducing crime in shared housing.

In the past two years, the Chaoyang District People's Court in Beijing has handled more than 50 criminal cases involving rental housing. Property-related crimes were the most common, followed by sex and drug-related offenses.

Guideline to better supervise rental properties

An officer walks into a joint tenancy apartment in Beijing’s Chaoyang district. Legal guidelines for tighter registration and supervision of tenants in rental properties may soon be issued in the capital. XUE JUN / FOR CHINA DAILY

One of the three officials to make the announcement on Tuesday was Jia Liying, presiding judge of the Chaoyang court's criminal department.

"Shared housing has become a major area where criminal cases frequently occur, so it's necessary for our housing authorities to impose greater restrictions," she said.

In April, a 22-year-old man named Cao came to his ex-girlfriend's rented apartment in the district's Nanhu Park community and beat and raped her roommate, according to a statement from the court. Cao was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for rape.

In 2011, Piao Yuanhao, 34, was sentenced to 10 and a half years in prison after he broke into a rented apartment in the district's Beiyuan Jiayuan community and stole more than 6,000 yuan ($985) from a couple and a laptop from their roommate, the court said.

Similar crimes take place between people living in shared housing, Jia said. The situation is compounded by the phenomenon of joint tenancies, where several people live together in a shared room, often in cramped conditions.

Wang Xiaoyong, 26, was placed in criminal detention after he stole more than 4,000 yuan from his two roommates last year. He confessed to the court that he would go into their rooms to look for money when they left temporarily, such as when they visited the toilet.

"Every tenant should install spring locks and prepare some self-defense items, so as to avoid harm from others," Jia said. "Also, rental agencies should advise tenants when they sign their contracts."

She said the key is for rental agencies to perform stricter and more detailed checks on tenants when they register them, rather than the current procedure, which involves simply checking their ID cards.

However, Zhang Kai, an employee at Le'anjia Real Estate, which has branches in many cities in China, said that the current regulations permit agencies to retain nothing but the copies of tenant's ID cards.

"We have no right to investigate our clients' backgrounds, unless the new rule gives much clearer requirements for that," he said. "But sometimes, if we think there might be something wrong with the ID cards, we do ask the tenant about their hometown or employment."

Huang Yan, a prosecutor in Beijing's Xicheng district, was another of the legal officials to suggest a new guideline on rental housing.

She said the current lax registration procedures lead to high crime rates in rental housing and cause problems for the rental sector.

About 20 percent of her caseload in 2012 related to crimes in rented homes, she said, twice as much as in 2011. She suggested agencies provide local police with information on their tenants and conduct regular checks on their tenants' identities.

In May, the Beijing Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development conducted a debate on the regulations for landlords and rental agencies, which took effect in 2011. The commission solicited comments on its website and said it was considering revising the regulation.

However, up to now, no revision has been made.

"Our judicial suggestion also aims to urge the authority to post the new regulation as quickly as it can," said Zhang Xiaoxu, another judge at the Chaoyang court.