Rental platforms are facing a crackdown in Beijing [Unsplash]

Rental platforms face renewed crackdown in Beijing

China: A significant number of short-term rental listings on platforms such as Airbnb in Beijing are reportedly being shut down on the orders of the city’s government.

Chinese investigative journalism website Caixin said that nine short-term rental platforms, including the likes of Airbnb,, Meituan and Tujia, were summoned to a meeting on 20 August by several government agencies and ordered to remove “non-compliant properties” within one week. The agencies are believed to include the Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the local office of the Cyberspace Administration, and the public security bureau.

Listings in rural communities have been unaffected thus far.

It comes as a consequence of authorities in China promising to crack down on “abusive” practices by real estate firms and online rental platforms, such as overcharging renters. President Xi Jinping is leading the charge by pledging to cap rental prices in a bid to increase the supply of affordable housing and achieve so-called “common prosperity”.

Urban areas such as Beijing and Shenzhen have been targeted for regulatory measures, as a decrease in the pool of available homes has coincided with a growth in the supply of rental properties. This is because these cities offer higher-paid jobs than in rural areas, which attracts ambitious millennials and graduates to move there, although they have little income to be able to afford anything other than rental housing and can therefore be more easily exploited.

It is estimated that 70 per cent of new residents and young people rent their homes in the major cities across China.

Chinese regulators’ hostility towards rental platforms has intensified since long-term housing app Danke Apartment – meaning ‘eggshell’ in Chinese – was left facing bankruptcy at the end of last year, after a 20-year old renter committed suicide when he was about to be evicted by his landlord. The renter said that the broker had “run away with his money” after he had already paid a year’s worth of rent online.

Under new regulations, landlords will be banned from collecting more than a month’s rent at one time, escrow accounts will be required for leasing companies and online rental platforms to hold customer deposits, and rent gouging and other abusive practices will be punished.

Last December, Beijing city authorities announced a ban on vacation rental lettings in neighbourhoods near the Forbidden City due to “security concerns”.

The city said that the directive, which also placed stricter controls on rentals in other parts of the capital, was 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 came into effect in February.

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