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Planting Houses in Shenzhen: A Real Estate Market Without Legal Titles

Canadian Journal of Law and Society / Revue Canadienne Droit et Société, 2013

20 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2014 Last revised: 16 May 2014

Shitong Qiao

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law

Date Written: February 4, 2014

Abstract

Can a real estate market operate without legal titles? The answer has conventionally been no. But in Shenzhen, the iconic city of China’s market economy, an opposite phenomenon exists: half of the buildings within the city, which has 1,993 square kilometers of land and over 10 million people, have no legal titles and have been rented or sold to millions of people illegally. These illegal buildings are called small properties, because their property rights are “smaller” (weaker) than legal properties. Based on my one-year fieldwork, this paper is a first step toward explaining the small-property market. It reveals that legitimate organizations and professionals have developed a network to facilitate impersonal transactions of illegal small properties. Set against the backdrop and context of China’s transition, this paper presents a feasible plan for building a market economy in transitional countries, where property laws are often less than ideal.

Keywords: property rights, small property (xiaochanquan), market transition, China, law and development

JEL Classification: K11; K42

Suggested Citation

Qiao, Shitong, Planting Houses in Shenzhen: A Real Estate Market Without Legal Titles (February 4, 2014). Canadian Journal of Law and Society / Revue Canadienne Droit et Société, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2391012 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2391012

Shitong Qiao (Contact Author)

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
China

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.hku.hk/faculty/staff/shitong_qiao.php

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