China Apartments, How Real are Contracts

China Apartments, How Real are Contracts

20/08/2020 0 By christopher


It was during the coronavirus period, may 1st to be exact, when a Chinese landlord who 2 months previously agreed with me that the room I was about to rent in a large house was in the course of remedying what was small repairs in the room which I reviewed and on the personal agreement to fixed it before I moved in 1 week later.


The choice of two rooms were available to me and I considered them carefully, One room was average size yet had a smaller bay window, but still served the expectations I had to others I had experienced before.

The second Room was a Master bedroom, great size wrap-around bay window with full view of the city & park of futian, shenzhen


The drawback was what seem a simple one and I was told it would be fixed or commence repair prior to my arriving 1 week later, lets say a written and verbal contract was struck and after a few days i decided again a dialogue was best.

I contacted the landlord to get an update, it was coming up to national holidays and she emphatically confirmed, ”It will be done” at least started one or the other problem resolved before or during the early part of my signing up to move in and the holidays



Call me stupid, but after reviewing the contract copy which I took home with me, it stated that the landlord was obliged to carry out rectifying repairs in 24hrs and or be open to negotiation on reduction of rental fees.

I considered this as a good deterrent and leverage to get the work done as specified, after all, no landlord wants to be returning money, well that was my poor judgment and mistaken assumption!


With a second look around and confirmation of the work to be carried out a few 4 days later, and assured by the landlords very able Cousin who arrived to discuss with me all that was required and finalize, he assured me that he will personally begin work on this apartment, but he will start ordering in the necessary parts to the floor and a wall.

Based On this action and schedule I decided to complete the contract for 3 months first.



The upshot as you can guess was one of broken promises, a small delivery of flooring wooden tiles arrived giving e the good feeling, but that was short-lived when a worker next day arrived, He began to rake up the floorboards on the damaged area of the room, almost reaching one third of the room square area,

Unhappy Workman :Shaking his head and muttering that this was not good, not enough wood to do the job?, stood up barked to me that he can’t continue without more replacement tiles, walked out the door with his tools and left everything as it wasn’t? at the same time barking at the landlord about this on the phone.

This was a bad start and a plethora of excuses, followed from that day onward to me, including, don’t have time, and even at times conveying that the coronavirus was the cause of not being able to complete any work,


Weeks to 1.5 months later this was the state of play and my room in a mess.

I now engaged and direct put the pressure on a fix or pay less rent for the period left on my contract, [I didn’t want to start moving home again it was a lot to do in such a short time]

The upshot of this was that after intense discussions, wechat group chat, the landlord arrived to check the apartment and I was out of there with my deposit intact, Heels clicking away and thankful.





May 1st Arrived to an agency that is considered shenzhen’s best apartment establishment has to offer, well promoted and revered as a quality and safe agent nationally I understood, I was not going to deal with small-time individuals and landlords privately, I was going to use the big boys and pay what I need to achieve a better experience.


My girlfriend also assured me that this was what was best and she herself had used this company several times in the past without problems. We reviewed a few apartments 8 in fact and a good location in long gang shenzhen outer city area.

I felt positive that this was going to be an experience to tick all the boxes, and it was the move was impeccable with a driver moving everything to the new apartment we choose on the 20th floor.


China Social Ranking System good or bad

Social Ranking,Please make it better
be more sociable in public and home

My concerns was conveyed by my Girlfriend to the agent about what I was not happy with or didn’t want to face in the future, with payments, repairs, keys and contractual obligations on both party part. We three proceeded to sign and we had a new apartment, Hooray!!


Pool, private gardens, running track, electronic keys and payment features using apps, MAGIC!

The apartment other tenants was an agent from another company with her husband, another girl was due to arrive to another room in few weeks [ al this info was also available on the app, who was leaving or arriving]




On reviewing the apartment I noticed 5 or 6 boxes of what looked like advertising fodder, left by someone previously I was told, this was going to be removed prior to my arrival we were told by the agent, yes guess what he forgot to do that when we arrived to move in, the gave me an alarm but I shrugged it and thought it was no big problem,


Weeks later I raised the question with vigor this time and again was told it will be removed, yet nothing happened, always busy or forgot was expressed, I was now getting peeved and thought ”should I be kicking with Spiked booths some Ass on this again”



We got to a point that instead of telling, I decided to make things move differently, downstairs we saw an old couple breaking down waste boxes and we used this as an opportunity to get shit out our recreation area, the old guy was excited to come over now and move all without a trolley, and it was pretty heavy stuff, he smiled and tool it all to the life not wanting my assistance when offered.



Birthday time August: One tenant vacated and another this week, ( the last one) Only us in the entire apartment, Today 18th we received a phone call from the agents telling us we need to vacate, the contract they want to cancel, this was all based on not getting more tenants to the apartment and it was uneconomical to rent to only one tenant it didn’t meet their cost per head and outgoings [not to mention commission loss I expect]


Surprise For Sure!

I was shocked and angered that a contract could be broken this easily from a renown company, no offer of compensation or apologies, just excuses that can’t get tenants and coronavirus as the reason.

Hello ”déjà vu”


I will be filing a complaint for what it’s worth, and have my say when I go to the office this weekend

This blog is written to heighten the weaknesses in what foreigners and Chinese alike face when something goes wrong in china, or the ballpark rules change unofficially, you are at the mercy of so called reputable and so called professionals and private Landlords, it would not be worth the headache to contest this in a big way, and they know and rely on that fact!

Contracts mean nothing on paper or online digital versions, this is a mind set built on a me first, money, and I don’t give a shit about you, certainly in the big cities. I haven’t lived in rural areas only hotel which is safer.

Legal Support

May be available but you can be sure it will only end up with you paying out a fortune and not guaranteed a favorable outcome I expect, and who needs to be fighting a case in a foreign country when the chips are stacked up against you. it’s a fools errand and a costly one at that.


With these experiences I will be more critical on everything I encounter or told, if it’s not perfect I ain’t going there, contracts will be on shorter periods now to allow me to stay of go at my depression. A safety net to under performing landlords


This is a mindset you need to survive in china, and I am still learning, my best apartment was one where I was sharing with a Turkish guy and his girlfriend, we both had full leverage to speak directly to the landlord not an agent, fortunately the landlord was fair and firm when things needed to be done, unbelievable enough he showed a gracious and fair expectations to the tenants, he fixed the price of the apartment over 5 years but if any items not major building structure associated, he remedied,

his approach was as long as we paid the rent in full one person 2, 3 ~ tenants didn’t matter, paid rent done and all’s well.

  • Other Chinese landlords can learn a lot from this Guy



My Recent Review on China’s Laws

Photo by Francesca Tirico on Unsplash

Foreigners breaking contracts suffer penalties more recently than past times, what worries me is that the road is one way, what remiss do we have to companies and agencies that screw expats and short term tenants? what simple route of remedy do we have without paying through the nose for the experience that may not bring these establishments to justice quickly and with results



if you are arriving to china or Asia take great care in acquiring an apartment, don’t rely only on contract they are not worthy of the paper it’s written, My safeguard tips are thus: generally, don’t accept promises for work to be done, in fact promises for anything including to fix a problem before you arrive.

Confirm utilities, features and requirements to your apartment agreements as best you can, leave nothing to chance or flippant response, if it’s not clear to you don’t proceed.