A new online-based home rental platform has started trial operations in Wuhan, Hubei province, and aims to further develop the rental market by streamlining procedures and ensuring reliable services.
The service, launched by the Wuhan housing security and management bureau and the Hubei branch of China Construction Bank, enables prospective tenants to browse listings uploaded by individuals or realtors, check the details of properties and even sign a lease.
It is the first such website to operate in a provincial capital under the national "government-bank cooperation" model, where a bank provides financial services, such as online payments and transactions to individuals and real estate agencies, while the housing management authority takes care of verification, supervision and management of rental companies.
On Nov. 1, Hu Qin, who works in the city's Optics Valley, became the first to sign a lease by logging onto the platform using an app, clinching a one-year contract to rent an apartment for 1,550 yuan (3) a month.
"It provides a fast, convenient and safe option for house renting," Hu said.
The platform also introduced a face-recognition system that enables applicants to undergo personal identity authentication and provide personal information online.
When a user logs on, a face-recognition interface pops up. After verification, users will be able to see contracts, fill in their information and provide an electronic signature. After that, the applicants' details are validated.
Once all the procedures are completed, contracts are uploaded to the housing management authority for registration and filing.
"We aim to provide a more trustworthy and reliable renting service" through cooperation with the bank, said a division chief from the Wuhan housing bureau who asked not to named. It will also enable the bureau to enhance supervision of the rental market and credit evaluations of the rental companies, he said.
"The rental market has long been lacking enough and effective supervision. The new platform will gradually standardize the market, as houses rented through it will have to be registered with and certified by the housing authority, reducing tenants' potential risks," said Lu Wenxi, an analyst at Shanghai-based Centaline Property.
The central government has been striving to provide a long-term solution to an overheated real estate market by encouraging more people to rent rather than buy.
China's rental housing market is expected to reach 4.2 trillion yuan in revenue by 2030, up from the current 1.3 trillion yuan, according to a Xinhua News Agency report.