Too many complaints, authority accuses house rental company

Hu Min
Consumer disputes over repairs, deposits, refunds and overcharging push complaints against Baletu agency up by more than 77 percent.
Hu Min

A go-between property agency in Shanghai has come under fire for drawing an avalanche of complaints.

The Shanghai Consumer Council has targeted Baletu, a house rental platform, for drawing the ire of consumers. It asked the operator to make immediate rectification during a talk with the company on Thursday.

By November 22 this year, the council had received 245 complaints about the platform, soaring 77.54 percent from the same period last year.

"Unmatched promotion content, housing quality, facility operation failure, repair services, deposit return and charging disputes were mainly involved," said Tang Jiansheng, deputy secretary-general of the council.

Some apartments listed for rental on the platform were found to be problematic on issues such as illegal structure and leases by sub-landlords without permission.

They exposed loopholes in the company's housing review mechanism, according to the council.

The platform promised seven-day unconditional return of all fees for end of lease, while many consumers complained they were in fact charged rents and other fees even if they did not start accommodation for a single day, said Tang.

The company was also accused of playing foul to evade responsibility after infringing the rights and interests of tenants, according to the council.

It was also found by the council to have refused the return of deposits and charging extra power rates.

The business model of the company was criticized for possibly hiking the rental prices of the housing market.

"Significant changes in complaints over Shanghai's go-between property agencies have been witnessed in recent years," said Tang. "Property rental disputes have surpassed that of the general property trade, with double-digit increases."

The council called on authorities to draft relevant regulations to cover new problems in the rental market and to regulate it.

Special Reports