Dominant tenants and submissive landlords: how has the landlord been disadvantaged during the rural settlement demolition process in peri-urban Shanghai?

Stream: Chinese social policy: urbanisation
Date: Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Time: 3.45 pm – 5.05 pm


Rural settlements around the city proper as peri-urban areas have provided affordable accommodations for domestic migrants. Existing literature has revealed that migrants tend to be disadvantaged when the settlement is demolished as they are very likely to be driven out without appropriate compensation. The tenure of migrants is considered insecure and informal. Our case study finds the reversed situation in a local village demolition case in Shanghai. During the demolition process, migrant tenants defended their so-called rights of living instead of just going away after the landlord terminated their leases. They even benefited by receiving considerable compensation from the landlords. This paper aims to explore what factors have led to such outcome through in-depth interviews with migrant tenants, landlords and village officials in 2014. We find that: 1) Landlords’ moving out to urban area leads to the weakening of original social network and meanwhile the continuous inflow of domestic migrants in the form of chain migration has formed a new social network based on kinship or their common home-village. The newly-born and strong social network increases migrant tenants’ bargaining power in addressing conflicts with landlords; 2) The de facto rights of tenants have been amplified. Tenants may have consistently invested the property by improving decoration or transformed the property for sub-lease. Although the de jure ownership of rural houses is not related to the tenants, the growing social network of migrants and their de facto use and investment on the properties just made the property rights ambiguous.


Jinwei Hao (Presenter), Shanghai University
Jinwei Hao is a Lecturer in the Urban Planning Program of Department of Architecture, Shanghai University. He got his PhD in Town and Country Planning in Tongji University. His research focuses on China’s urbanisation, rural-urban disparity, homelessness and migrant wellbeing in cities.

Jin Zhu, University of New South Wales
Jin Zhu is a PhD Candidate and Research Assistant in the City Future Research Centre, Faculty of the Built Environment, University of New South Wales, Australia. His key research interests include housing policy, urbanisation and urban governance. He received his Bachelor and Masters Degree in urban planning from Zhejiang and Tongji Universities, China.