Beijing bans vacation rentals close to Forbidden City

China: Beijing city authorities have banned ban vacation rental lettings in neighbourhoods near the Forbidden City due to “security concerns”.

The city said the new directive, which also places stricter controls on rentals in other parts of the capital, is part of a move to tighten control of short-term apartment rentals across the city and to ensure safety in the “core central administrative zone”, an area of 35 square miles around the Forbidden City and the Zhongnanhai compound.

The new policy will come into force in February.

Short-term lets are still legal outside the zone but will be subject to stricter regulation. Those letting out apartments will need to obtain approval from the house owners committee and meet certain health and safety standards.

All short-term rental operators will also be obliged to check the tenants’ identity cards in person and register their information. They will also be banned from renting to people who cannot produce valid identity documents.

Zhao Qingxiang, secretary general of Beijing Real Estate Agency Association, said the website of the Beijing Commission of Housing and Urban Development had identified short-term lettings as a potential security threat.

“Some operators do not meet tenants and it’s common for one person to book the apartment but have several people staying there. Neither the landlord nor the operators or the authorities know exactly who is staying in the apartment and what they are doing,” Zhao said. “Short-term rental housing that is out of control can easily become a hiding place for prostitutes, drug addicts or even terrorists.”

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