Ambiguous Rights: Land Reform and the Problem of Minor Property Rights Housing

« Ambiguous Rights: Land Reform and the Problem of Minor Property Rights Housing », paper written by Karita Kan (2012). China Perspectives, 2012/3.

Minor property rights housing (xiao chanquan fang 小产权房) is an unofficial term referring to illegal residential structures built on rural, collectively-owned land that is sold or rented to non-local urbanites. Its controversial legal status stems from the dual ownership structure in China’s land regime. According to Article 8 of the Land Administration Law, the state claims ownership of urban land, while land in rural and suburban areas is owned, unless otherwise stipulated, collectively by rural residents represented by peasant collectives. Rural collective land is theoretically reserved for the exclusive use of villagers, and should be not sold, transferred, or leased to non-rural residents. The real estate boom and successive hikes in property prices have nevertheless provided strong incentives for rural landowners to capture the monetary benefits of urban development through selling and leasing land and houses to urbanites looking for affordable accommodation.

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Miguel Elosua

Spanish qualified lawyer; PhD in Chinese Law. UrbaChina Research Officer. Has lived in China since 2006.

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