The most debated issue about bèichákǎ in the foreigner community.
The police registration and bèichákǎ are free. But you need to legally rent an apartment, legally renting a place means that your landlord shall pay taxes on it’s rental income (up to 22,5% of the amount of the monthly rent).
In some places, (especially Nankai), police stations are still in charge of collecting taxes on behalf of local tax bureaus. If your landlord didn’t know about that, you may find yourself in an argument about who has to pay taxes. Landlords will argue that “if I was renting to a Chinese citizen, I wouldn’t have to go through that trouble”. While that is a fallacious argument and they are legally bonded to pay rental income taxes, the burden will often fall on the renter, so get ready to be the one to pay taxes on their behalf.
Advice 1: When you are seeking for an apartment, always make it very clear with the agent that you will need a bèichákǎ and won’t pay taxes on behalf of the landlord. But be advised that in doing so, they will include the taxes in the rent. As unfair as it sounds, don’t get pissed off about it, it’s the way it is happens here.
Advice 2: if you don’t have enough money to pay for all your rental agreement taxes, you may register for only a few months. Don’t forget that even if your bèichákǎ doesn’t expire, you won’t be properly registered after these few months anymore.
Advice 3: rent is rent, taxes are only owned on the rental amount, if your rental price includes others fees (management, heating, landlord services fees) you want to have them deducted and have a new agreement of a lesser amount written to reduce the tax burden.
Advice 4: living with roommates is allowed and thus may reduce the amount of the tax burden, but there is a limit about the number of people allowed to live at the same address (depending on the apartment size and number of rooms).