(Foreigners talking about their experiences of renting an apartment in China)

(Apartment interiors)

Lance: Now as you are inspecting the apartment, make sure you ask the landlord what is included what isn’t included, OK? Heating, and a fee called 物业费, which is the property’s maintenance and management fee, is covered by the landlord. The renter is responsible for electricity, which is pre-paid using a rechargeable card. Either you or the landlord will need to monitor the energy levels on these electricity meters, so make sure you find out where your electricity meter is.

Lance: 电表在哪儿?(Diànbiǎo zài nǎér?)
Landlord: 在这里。(Zài zhè lǐ.)
Lance: Thank you.

Lance: Remember when your card runs out power, your power will be shut off, because banks do all the recharging, and banks close at 5 p.m., you’ll need to wait until the next business day in order to recharge your card.

One of the major differences you find when renting an apartment here in Beijing is the size of the bathroom, the bathroom facilities are usually a bit smaller than what you use back home. Of course one major difference is the shower. What you see here is not a raised platform but rather a drain that is built into the floor. Another major difference of course is there is no tub. Most bathrooms here in Beijing, well, throughout China can only be with a shower.

(Kitchen scenes)

Lance: The kitchen is also very different. Expect to see two burners instead of four burners on the stovetop, or instead, an electric plug-in stovetop. Generally, there are no ovens in the apartments, so in most apartments you are unable to bake any food.

You can ask your landlord to remove a specific piece of furniture if you don’t love it. In prior to moving in, make sure everything works, something is broken or needs to be fixed, have your landlord repair it prior to moving in.

Rent is always harder to negotiate, unless you’re planning to sign a longer lease. And keep in mind the agent’s commission is usually one month’s rent.
But, remember, anything and everything is negotiable.

Landlord: 您需要交一个月的押金,预付一年的租金。(Nín xūyào jiāo yíɡèyuè de yājīn , yùfù yìnián de zūjīn.)
Lance: 能交半年的吗?(Nénɡ jiāo bànnián de mɑ?)
Landlord: 可以。(Kéyǐ.)

Lance: You should be able to negotiate to pay three to six months upfront. If you do decide to pay for six to twelve months as a security deposit, then you may be able to ask your landlord for 100-200 yuan off your monthly rent.

Lance: Before you sign the contract or 合同, make sure you understand everything, such as what happens if you break the lease, sublet, move out early, or what is and is not included. The contract that you sign should be in English. If the contract you are looking at is not in English, then ask for one.


(Caption: 主持人蓝天(Lance)向房东索要英文合同。Lance asks the landlord for a contract in English.)

Lance: 你能给我一份英文的合同吗?(Nǐ nénɡ ɡěi wǒ yífèn yīnɡwén de hétonɡ mɑ?)
Landlord: 可以。(Kéyǐ.)
Lance: 谢谢。(Xièxiè.)

Lance: At the end of the process, a fee or 中介费 will be owed to the realtor. Usually, if the rent is below 4,000 RMB, you need to cover the entire cost of the fee, or you may be able to speak to the landlord. If the rent is above 4,000 RMB, the landlord may cover the entire cost. Usually, the fee amount is the same amount as one month’s rent. Now once you move in you will need to register with the local police department. Failure to do will result in a fine or perhaps something worse, so make sure you ask your landlord about this before you sign anything. Now let’s review what we’ve learned.

Lance: A good deal of luck and patience will help you find an apartment in Beijing. Once you get settled in, all you’ll need to do is spruce it up, and throw a housewarming party. For Living Chinese, I’m Lance Crayon. (End)

Language points:

Nénɡ jiāo bànnián de fánɡzū mɑ?
能 can or could, 交 to pay, 半年half a year, 房租 rent, 吗 a particle coming at the end of the sentence, suggesting this is a question, 能交半年的房租吗?Can I pay the rent for half of a year?

Nǐ nénɡ ɡěi wǒ yífèn yīnɡwén de hétonɡ mɑ?
合同 contract, 英文的 English, 一份 one, 份 here is a measure word for contract, 给 to give, 能 can or could, 你 you, 你能给我一份英文的合同吗? Can you offer me the same contract in English?