Tenants in rented properties in Beijing can now send their children to schools in their own neighborhood as part of a recent effort by the authorities to improve education equality.
Primary schools previously could only accept the children of local homeowners. But that regulation has been lifted to include renters who hold household registration－or hukou－in another part of the capital.
The rule change is aimed at providing young couples more options in their children's education, according to Feng Hongrong, deputy director of Beijing's Education Commission.
To be eligible, however, one parent must have had a stable job within the metropolitan district in which they rent, such as Haidian or Chaoyang, for more than three consecutive years.
Chu Zhaohui, a senior researcher at the National Institute of Education, said the regulation is convenient for young Beijing residents with hukou, as it gives their children easier access to schools.
However, he warned that the policy could put more pressure on Haidian and Xicheng districts, which have a lot of highly regarded primary schools.
"It could also see people rent homes in places with good schools to increase their options," he said.
In addition to helping renters, the city government has said that quality primary schools that have some vacant seats will now accept pupils from nearby school districts through a computer-generated lottery operated by the education commission.
It means there will be more choices, as some schools have good resources but the surrounding area has a shortage of students, Feng said.
"In a way, it guarantees fairness," he said.
Chu, the researcher, said: "The quality of each primary school will become more balanced if this is promoted over several years."
He said he has advised the education commission to apply the same lottery system to high-quality middle schools and high schools.
China's law on compulsory education, introduced in 2006, states that governments should provide school-age students access to education in the place where they hold hukou.
In 2014, Beijing issued regulations allowing pupils to enter primary schools near their homes, as a way to balance the development of primary and secondary schools and distribute education resources more fairly.
The boundaries of Beijing's school districts are changed every year, which according to authorities is to prevent property prices around quality schools from overheating.