China’s landlords

For China’s landlords, rent-to-riches dreams fade in red flag for fragile economy

Not yet 30, Beijing office worker Li thought she was already on her way up China’s private property ladder with two apartments bought and rented out. Then came the new coronavirus, jobless tenants leaving town and a rent falloff.

She’s one of millions of Chinese landlords who have bought apartments to let in a highway to the country’s growing middle class, many now facing a first slump in rental income.

Analysts say there’s little prospect of widespread mortgage defaults for now, and property prices continue to grow, albeit more slowly. But the rental woes underline China’s economic fragility, with the landlord legions already cutting back on spending amid their gloom.

Li, who declined to give her full name, said she had to almost halve the rent at one of her apartments between February and May to hang on to a tenant, while her own salary was slashed 25 per cent as her employer made coronavirus cutbacks.

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