Rental blunders to avoid?

I’ve always used Airbnb for renting places in Taiwan, and it’s worked out well. That pink cushion of protection is nice to have.

I recently searched the forum for information about renting, and again and again I found complaints about landlords overreaching and generally acting in ways towards their tenants that would be just plain illegal in the west.

As I gather from the responses to those posts, a lot of those things are still illegal here, but “good luck getting it enforced as a foreigner”.

I’m currently looking at my first off-Airbnb rental, which, albeit short-term, needs a deposit, utilities, a contract, etc - all the normal fixins.

The only thing is, reading through Forumosa on the matter has gotten me spooked, so I’d like to ask if there’s anything I should look out for when it comes to the contract, or the process in general, that could end up screwing me.

2 month lease for deposit is usual. All rentals I had in Taiwan is 2 month deposit. They don’t do credit or background checks. The contract will likely be the standard ones you buy from stationary stores so you can read it for yourself. I can give you a rundown as soon as I get home…

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Ive rented in about five different places and never had a major problem. Something that did happen once was a landlord gave a verbal green light to throw out old furniture and then tried to deduct from the deposit for the furniture we had thrown. Obviously having that kind of agreement in writing is safer. Photos help too.If anything is damaged already when you are moving in it doesnt hurt to photograph it (with the date stamp).

I avoid furnished apartments. Less things to break. Plus most furnished apartment comes with crap furniture.


Copy pasting or quoting myself:

Do not rent from abroad, without seeing. Do not sign anything by yourself, always have witnesses. Never share the place with the landlord and NEVER take a place where you share utilities.

Take pictures/video of everything as you find it. Please remember contracts in English may not be valid, or at least not as valid as the one in Chinese.

Learn to look for convenience like Taiwanese do. You can live a bit further away, a bus ride and MRT ride of 20 minutes or so and still be fine and save money and not become a hermit. But if the nearest 711 is a bus ride away, you will be in trouble. Convenience and health. Do not rent unhealthy accommodation, like window less shoe boxes or basement dwelling. There was a tuberculosis plague in 97.

Remember: there are options, this is not the only room in the world and you will not end up sleeping on the groud.



I have not paid anything yet, but I am not in Taiwan right now so I haven’t seen the place besides pictures (which are nice, and it is not some matchbox).

I will be renting in a city I have no connections in, so what do you suggest to do about witnesses? Just take a video of the process? Seems like that may be offputting to the owner.
What is the concern with witnesses?

Because if there is a problem it will be your word against theirs.

The place may look nice, but how about its surroundings? No, Google street view does not count. How does it smell? Does it transform by night? Is it next to a school, surrounded by 8 temples? How do the neighbors feel about a foreigner moving in?

The walls, are they too thin? Does the place have excessive humidity? Is the stench from your smoking neighbor coming through the pipes?

Etc. Ad nauseam.

Water drain must be checked.

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for sure it is

The standard rental contract (stamp and fingerprint makes it official):

  1. Deals with area rented to you, including address

  2. Deals with how long the contract is, including start date and end date, in minguo year.

  3. Deals with the rent price, as well as saying how you can’t fail to pay without a valid excuse, etc. and it also says you can’t use your deposit as rent.

  4. Says the date rent is due, and whether it’s monthly or whatever.

  5. Tells you how much the deposit is (standard is 2 months)

  6. Says if you aren’t renting anymore, the landlord will return the deposit without interest.

  7. Utilities, phone, gas, management fees, waste management is your responsibility.

  8. When the contract runs out, unless the landlord consents you should move out. If you don’t move out they can charge you double rent until you move out.

  9. If you move out while your lease is still running you can’t ask the landlord to reimburse you for paid rent, moving fees, and other fees. You should unconditionally return the property to the landlord in its original condition (meaning any walls and stuff you put up, any AC installed that wasn’t a part of the property, must be taken off).

  10. Unless the landlord consents, you are not to sublease the property to someone else.

  11. You may not use the property for illegal purpose or store dangerous items.

  12. If you wish to modify the property, you must get the landlord’s consent, but you can’t do permanent damage to the original property. When you move out you must return the property to its original condition.

  13. You must maintain the property within reason, you are responsible for all damage except for natural disasters or other factors beyond your control. The landlord is responsible for all maintenance and wear and tear.

14, If something happens to the property that aren’t caused by the landlord, and your properties are damaged or stolen, you are not to ask the landlord for compensation.

  1. If you damage the property as a result of violating the terms of the lease, you will be responsible for fixing it and you waive all rights to take it to court (don’t know the legal term),

  2. If due to your violation of the terms of the lease, the landlord must take you to court, you will be responsible for all legal costs.

  3. You and the landlord must follow the terms of the lease, if you violate the lease the landlord has the right to evict you. He is not responsible for any damage caused by this.

  4. The landlord is responsible for all property taxes, you are responsible for all utilities and any business related tax.

  5. Any items left when you move out is considered abandoned, and you waive all claims to it.

  6. If you or the landlord is terminating the lease you or the landlord must give 1 month notice, and either you or the landlord must pay 1 month lease as penalty (meaning if the landlord is terminating the lease on you they must tell you a month ahead and pay you 1 months rent).

  7. All rent related tax are your or the landlord’s responsibility to file and pay.

These are basically the standard terms for all lease contracts sold in stationary stores in Taiwan. The landlord can add terms if necessary (for example, pay 1 year’s lease and get a slight discount).

I read there are ways to get a notarized lease, which allows you to do things like register a business, your houkou, etc. but it costs a lot to do it, and most landlords are very much against it (a lot of them don’t want the extra taxes… meaning they’re actually evading tax). 95% of all landlords will NOT allow you to register a houkou for some reason… not much you can do except to make special arrangements (and possibly increased rent). Rents are not taxed unless it exceeds 20,000 NTD for some reason, and people game the system about this too (for example, rent you a place for 19,000 NT, then another parking space for 6000 NT, making the total rent what the landlord charges you but the government sees 2 separate properties below 20,000 NT therefore it’s not taxed).


I’ve run into a few issues. Make sure the screens in the window are in place and not torn or there will be mosquitoes galore

Check for evidence of cockroach infestation. A friend of mine rented an apartment where when the light was turned on hundreds of roaches scattered, no joke.

Ensure the hot water works and is sufficient for your use. I rented a place once with a small water tank and only 5 min of hot shower water.

Ensure the fridge and stove and AC look workable and not super old. Many landlords will refuse to replace or repair them. I had a potential landlord, an old man, that said everything here is as is, it breaks not my problem. That tells me he will be a nightmare to deal with.

Check that there is natural light.

Icon already mentioned three other things but it bears repeating. Only rent where you pay your own utilities. Otherwise the landlord may try to rip you off.

Walls too thin. In my last place you could hear the neighbours sex moans from many doors down. No it wasn’t as hot as it sounds at 2am when you are trying to sleep

Plus I had a neighbour chain smoking menthol cigarettes and I couldn’t breathe. Luckily he got evicted.

Finally some landlords discriminate and will refuse to rent to foreigners. You may need to call around.

So I am sitting on the couch watching TV two Sundays ago, and the next thing there is someone trying to open the front door, fiddling with a key in the lock. I open the door and there are three people standing there. The guy says they are there to look at the flat. I send them packing. The landlord calls and says he is selling the place and can they come and look, he says they will not break the lease if they buy as they are investment as opposed to buying to occupy types . So I – extremely stupidly - say ok they can come look. They come and look around all super polite and nice, practically did the bowing thing, smile smile, oh la di da. Then this week we get a notice that they bought already and want us out because they want to live here. So now its either uncomfortable agro, or look for a place and move hassle.

Lesson learned: Do not let anyone poke their noses into the flat you are renting.

Yeah, ask if the place is for sale before you sign a rental contract.

Right after we moved into our current place the realtor asked if we wanted to buy it. We don’t. Didn’t tell us it was for sale before the lease was signed.
Not cool.

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That sucks!
Doesn’t the contract you’ve signed say anything about that?
At least they have to pay something for breaking the lease, no?

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Yea he said he would pay up some compensation to soften it as per whats in the contract. Well see if that actually happens. 591 is looking sparse and I enrolled my kid in the school next to the house just last week… doh!

Ahh well, first world problems.

Best of luck . Have a look at balcony adverts nearby with numbers . You may get lucky . Don’t they know you are a champion quizmaster and need serious respect ? :smirk:


Hopefully your mandarin is better than your French and you can find somewhere :yum:

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Thank you for the help everyone; I will make a checklist and make sure to inspect when I look at the apartment.

I’ve got one more question for the moment, and that’s for where I might go to find comparable/other places to rent for the short term, in case there turns out to be an issue with this one. I’d also like to get a bit of ammo in case they try and pull a fast one.

I know of 591, but I can’t figure out how to use it since I don’t speak/read mandarin.

As for the rent, it’s above 20,000/month not including utilities, but it’s a relatively nice place with good amenities in a decent (looking) area. I do get the sense that I may be paying a foreigner tax on this to some degree. It’s not too far out of line of the other places I found, but since I can’t figure out 591, I may have only been comparing amongst other places with foreigner taxes already figured in.

If you PM me the details of the place ill let you know if you are getting ripped off.

How big is it? Is it one of those fancy elevator buildings where you have to pay a management fee? What is the location?