Are you planning to rent a house in Taiwan but have no idea where to start? Here are some useful tips to help you find the perfect rental property and avoid scams.
Where to Find a Rental Property
The easiest way to find a rental property in Taiwan is through online platforms or Facebook groups for foreigners looking for accommodation.
You can also check local universities’ bulletin boards or visit their administrative offices’ websites. You can also rely on word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family. In my opinion, this works best. So remember to make connections with the locals, for example, making Taiwanese friends, showing up at local gatherings, and participating in management committee (管委會, guǎn wěi huì) or community support groups so that you can always have first-hand information about good properties.
However, it’s essential to avoid renting from second-hand landlords, as they may not have the legal rights to rent the property. Things like this don’t happen frequently, but it’s not rare. Please pay attention to the sharehouses around universities; some students (both exchange and local) will rent out the spare room in their flats without their landlord knowing, which is illegal and dangerous should something terrible happen.
Types of rental properties in Taiwan
When it comes to rental properties in Taiwan, you have several options to choose from, including:
This is a room with a bed and a wardrobe, sometimes it comes with a desk, and you must share the common areas, like the living room and bathroom, with other tenants.
套房 (Studio with Bathroom):
This studio has a private bathroom, perfect for those who prefer privacy.
整層 (Whole Floor):
This option allows you to rent the entire building floor, including a kitchen, living room, and multiple bedrooms.
This option is for renting a room and sharing common areas such as the kitchen, living room, and bathroom with other tenants.
社區大樓套房 (Apartment Complex):
This rental option is often found in the city centers, and it comes with a range of amenities such as a gym, pool, and parking.
Things to Consider Before Renting a Property
Depending on where you live, the property’s price fluctuates dramatically. I’m not sure if there can be a standard price list. But take Taipei for example, and the rent should be in the following range: ( based on my own experience)
- Single studio without bathroom, with water and internet: NTD 6,000~15,000
- Single studio with bathroom, water, and internet: NTD 10,000~20,000
Negotiating the rent (殺價):
It’s not common to negotiate the rent with the landlord as a student, but it is still worth a try. There are two strategies you can use when negotiating. The first is to get to the point by saying things like:
- 可以再便宜一兩千塊嗎? (Can you make it cheaper for one or two thousand? )
- 如果是….這個價錢的話可以嗎? (If it is… at this price, is it ok?)
- 可以再算我便宜一點嗎? (Can you make me a little cheaper?)
Water and Electricity (水費與電費):
Under most circumstances, the water bills will be included in the rent because the water is so cheap in Taiwan that landlords don’t even bother to pay more for you. But the electricity bill is what most people have trouble with. The standard price per kilowatt-hour is 5 NTD if you rent. If you have your property, which is nearly impossible for the younger generation, you pay 2.38 NTD per kilowatt-hour. Sounds insane, right!? That’s two times more if we rent!
Worse, some landlords will try to rip you off by overcharging the electricity to 6-7 NTD per KHW. But you can tell them it’s illegal, and if they don’t want to lower the price, you can report them. According to the “Rental Housing Market Development and Regulation Act,” there is an upper limit for the landlord’s pricing based on the highest level of electricity consumption set by Taipower for the month. Assuming that the highest level of electricity consumption is “more than 1,001 kWh per month”, The summer electricity charge cannot exceed 6.41 yuan, and the non-summer electricity charge cannot exceed 5.3 yuan per kilowatt-hour.
Independent electricity meter (是否有獨立電表):
Having your meter is good because you don’t need to spend time calculating with your neighbors how much you and they consume over how long. If it is not an independent meter, there will be a lot of troubles in the distribution and settlement of electricity bills in the future, such as the co-resident always turning on the air conditioner or does not have good electricity usage habits, which will cause the electricity bill to skyrocket, and you will have to pay extra. It is not the electricity used.
There are two kinds of gas in Taiwan, the 瓦斯桶 (gas filled in the can) and 家用瓦斯 (gas in the cable). The previous one is not commonly seen nowadays except that you’re renting in very rural areas; the biggest drawback of this kind of gas is that it breaks down occasionally, for example, during your shower or cooking. So paying attention to this is essential if you don’t want to shower in cold water during winter.
Usually, the internet is included in the rent, but you need to check if the internet is just wifi or cable; the latter receives a much more stable connection than the former, which is crucial to consider if you work from home.
Management Fees (管理費):
This is needed only when you live in an apartment complex, and the price will be around 1000~2500 NTD. Price falls over this range exists, but it depends on how good your apartment is and what kind of services are included in the management fee. Under most circumstances, it includes garbage cleaning, recycling, public area maintenance, elevator use and maintenance, public facility maintenance, and package receiving.
Parking is rarely included in the rental contract unless you’re super lucky to meet with a kind landlord (like me :>) Suppose you happen to be in Taipei and own a scooter, a motorcycle, or a car. Then you will need to give away some thousand NTD to protect your vehicles from the damage of rain, people, and bird shit. As I’m unfamiliar with how it works for renting a car parking, you can refer to the following websites to see if the fare meets your need.
- Rent a car parking in Taipei, pay by the month, public parking
- People releasing their car parking in their buildings
Neighbors and surroundings (鄰居與周遭環境):
Before signing the contract, you can visit to see if that area suits you. The more convenient the neighborhood gets, the more people, cars, and restaurants it has. So you can expect more traffic problems, sanitary concerns, and bumping into others if you settle down.
Neighbors are important, too. Before signing the contract, you can also ask the landlord to tell you what your neighbors are doing. For example, what are their occupations, and how long have they been renting? As in Chinese, we say: 千金買房，萬金買鄰 (Thousands of dollars to buy a house, ten thousand dollars to buy a neighbor), pay attention to whether your neighbors:
I can’t stand people smoking, so I will do everything to avoid living next to someone who smokes heavily. Even more annoying than the smoke is that some people don’t clean their cigarette butts and leave them on the floor.
Bring strangers back home regularly (出入人士是否複雜):
If your neighbor is a people person, he/she might bring people back home and make noise. KTV at 2 a.m. is intolerable, and the shuffling sound of Mahjong is too.
Have kids under 3 (是否有三歲以下嬰幼兒):
I’m not against families; I also understand how difficult it is to raise a human being. But the crying and screaming for 24 hours are terrible.
Things to ask the landlord
Add-ons on the rooftop (是否為頂樓加蓋):
You will have a bunch of terrible things happen to you if you live on an illegally constructed rooftop, such as:
Power trip or water leakage
Most of the top floor is built on sharing electricity with the original house. The power is distributed from the public power panel, which is easier to trip than ordinary houses. The water pipes are connected to the shared pipeline, so there are often water leakage problems.
Public safety concerns in case of fire
Most of the top floors are made of iron sheets. If a fire breaks out, there is no way to prevent fires. In addition, there is not enough safe refuge space to escape, and it is easy to cause public safety problems.
Security and privacy issues
Some are relatively close to the adjacent houses, and the top floor is just a chance for neighbors or strangers to invade. Not only the risk of property theft but also the threat of personal safety and even the invasion of privacy.
Risk of being demolished in the future
Most of the top floors are built illegally, and once reported, they may be demolished.
Is it ok to cook? (可否開明火)
Usually, the landlord will forbid you from using the fire and the gas, which means you can only use the electrical pot for cooking. For a student or people who live alone, this might not be a big problem. But for families or couples, it gets complicated because the electrical pot takes longer to make things edible and bigger space in the kitchen.
Is it ok to have a pet? (可否養寵物)
There are more and more rooms that are open for people who have pets. You only need to sign another independent contract that says you’ll take care of the property well and prevent it from being damaged by your pets. The name of this contract is called: 寵物條款 (Chǒngwù tiáokuǎn, pet clause), and for more information, please find this website (in Chinese):
Is the first floor a restaurant or some shop? (一樓是否為店面)
Because Taiwan’s urban planning is a mixed type of residential and commercial, it is widespread for the first floor of the rented house to be a restaurant or coffee shop. In addition, Taiwan’s climate is humid, rainy, and hot, and food waste, cockroaches, flies, and mice will often appear. If the first floor of the rented house is used as a storefront, it will likely cause hygiene concerns, so I suggest you consider it.
Water leaks, wall cancer, how to do with them? (漏水或壁癌如何處理)
This is another climate-related issue. Take Taipei as an example. As the capital city, the houses are usually old and close to each other. In addition, it is often rainy and cloudy, so there are often cases of wall cancer or mold in every corner of the house. These conditions will seriously affect the quality of living, especially for people with allergies or respiratory diseases, which will cause health damage. Under normal circumstances, this is not caused by human factors but by the damage to the house caused by the natural use of the house, so the landlord should pay for the repairs. But this is not a problem that every landlord will care about.