Housing Studies, vol. 24, 2009, p.825-841
Sprawling housing developments on rural land around Chinese cities are challenging the official prohibition of any urban development in the countryside without going through eminent domain, which is the only legal way to convert rural land into urban land use. The legal inalienability of rural land poses a dilemma for every party involved in so-called 'small property rights' housing in the countryside. On the other hand, faced with rising house prices in the cities and criticism of past housing policies, many local governments have been pushing for larger-scale affordable housing programmes. These programmes typically feature restricted home ownership, are targeted on middle- to low-income groups, and stipulate inalienability within five years. Both types of housing development are characterised by partial or limited property rights, including restrictions on alienability and ownership eligibility.