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Utilities in Shanghai


The utilities will usually be set up by the landlord, or the real estate company, as the procedure is conducted entirely in Chinese. In case you need repairs, or if something is not working, there are emergency numbers to call, but these are staffed by Chinese speakers. In compounds or apartments, the management will make these calls for you; in historic houses, you generally call the landlord or their representative. TIP : Most expatriates working for a multinational company will have their secretary assist in times of need.

The landlord will not usually transfer the rights to the utilities/phone to your name. Usually the management will handle the incoming bills and contact you with a notice to pay. However if the transfer to you is made (very rare in Shanghai) then you will need to sign a standard transfer form, and your landlord will submit this, with a copy of the latest bill.

Utilities are usually almost always in place when you move in and all you will need to do (or your agent does on your behalf) is check the meters and both parties sign a form agreeing to he meter readings. However, if gas installation is required it will cost ¥800, plus a construction and materials fee of ¥120-180. Usually the landlord pays for this, but be sure you are clear about this in your negotiations if necessary. Gas installation for a single-family dwelling is usually completed within 10 days.

Electricity & Water

China uses 220 volt power supply for standard domestic and business purposes. Hotels generally provide wall sockets in every bathroom for razors and hair dryers, accommodating both straight two-pin plugs and triangular 3-pins plugs. A variety of electrical outlets can be found in China, so a good all-around adaptor plug set is recommended. Keep in mind that no matter what type of plug an outlet might accept, voltage in China is 220V 50 Hz.

Each city has its own supplier or suppliers of electricity, and the landlord of the property should be able to inform the tenant of the name and contact details of the supplier for that property. In some cases the electricity bills are covered as part of the rent, in which case the account is likely to remain in the landlord's name. If the account is to be held in the tenant's name, then the local office of the provider should be contacted with the new details. This may have to be done in conjunction with the landlord to help overcome any language barriers. A deposit is normally required in these circumstances. If a new account has to be opened, rather than simply transferring an account into the new tenant's name, an application and a visit to the office are usually required. Connection times can vary from same-day to several days.

Bills that come in the form of a monthly statement can be paid in cash or with a debit card at the local utility office or a bank, post office or participating convenience store, or at an office of the provider (contact details are normally printed on the back of the bill). The bill and account number are needed. Some locations have ATM-type machines where bills can be scanned and paid with a debit card.

In some cities, such as Beijing, bills can be pre-paid via Integrated Circuit (IC) electronic cards, which can be debited by inserting directly into the meter. These are often combined with the gas account. The cards can be charged at banks or other outlets.

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