Beijing sets minimum living space

By Jiang Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2013-7-19 0:33:02

The Beijing government launched a new policy on Thursday that forbids real estate agencies from renting out basement storage rooms to low-rent seekers. It further set a minimum living space of five square meters per person in all rented apartments.

The policy, which was jointly released by several government departments including the Beijing Public Security Bureau and the Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning, stipulates that apartments cannot be "restructured" into compartments to house more residents and that no more than two people can share one rented apartment room.

"Kitchens, bathrooms, balconies, basements storage rooms cannot be remodeled and rented out as living space. The average living area per person in an apartment cannot be less than five square meters," read the notice.

The policy came after a report by the Beijing Daily on Monday that revealed an 80-square-meter apartment in Beijing had been rented to 25 people, who slept on bunk beds and shared one bathroom.

The policy on Thursday  sparked heated debate on the Internet as many renters feared the policy would trigger a rise in rents.

"If we could make more money, we wouldn't choose to share a shabby apartment with others. This notice won't help unless the government can actually do something to lower house prices," one renter named Shi told the Global Times.

Shi's opinion was also reflected in a poll conducted Thursday by news portal Sina, in which more than 70,000 people have participated. The poll showed that more than 60 percent of respondents were opposed to the policy, believing that it would have a huge impact on those with low-income and lead to a rise in rents.

An earlier report from the Beijing News revealed that non-local residents in Beijing on average have to spend at least 40 percent of their salaries on rent.

Analysts, on the other hand, supported the policy, citing reasons of potential safety hazard in overcrowded apartments.

"Apartments and communities are designed and built to host a certain number of people. Exceeding that number will not only exhaust the public resources but also present safety issues that endanger everyone in the community," Hui Jianqiang, a research fellow of E-house China R&D Institute, told the Global Times.

Hui's opinion was echoed by Li Jingguo, a property researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who told the Global Times that the government should have strengthened regulations on rent long ago.

A renter was killed after jumping off his apartment that was on fire in 2011 in Chaoyang district. It was later found that his apartment was divided into 21 compartments and the victim was cornered when the fire broke out, the Beijing Evening News reported.




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