Are rents exorbitant? Are boarding house owners exploiting their tenants? This estimation appeared on the pages of a local newspaper as part of the discussion on the rising costs of renting in Shanghai.
Published in The China Press in August 1938.
"A most unimpressive profit" is all that is left to a boarding house operator – or none at all, if she, or he, lives on one of the rooms. But the questions remain. Were all these taxes dutfully paid and licenses procured? What share of renting/subletting transactions went under the table? I suspect – a large part! Just look at the tenacious practice of "key money" – illegal at all times, yet practiced ubiquitously. The enforcement in Shanghai was weak.
Top image: Russian Women's Hostel, late 1930s. LSE.