I recommend using this website (www.homtel.cn ) to rent an apartment in China, for its wealth of choice. I was told, however, that the photos displayed on the webs do not match the reality. And the landlord/lady will charge you extra money for this and that. Given that there are so many fake products in China, a fake photo should not come as too much of a surprise.
The tip, therefore, is not to pay anything before you actually see the apartment.
I have quite nice experience with using the website though. Through the website listing, I found an apartment in Dalian, Liaoning province.
This is the apartment I found at Dalian, costing RMB3,000 monthly.
I called at the posted contact number and the lady sounded very friendly and sincere. Normally, you are required to pay the rent before your booking is confirmed. But I told her I was not inside China so I would only pay upon arrival. She sounded very positive about this and raised no objections.
And the apartment was just like what it was shown on the photos, with all the modern household appliances, as promised on the internet. The lady even came to the airport for free pickup. The website didn’t mention internet connection but the apartment actually included this. In the middle of the month-long stay, the internet connection broke down. The lady was a bit slow in taking action to fix it but it was finally fixed after a week. No water or electricity bill was charged during the stay.
But as a foreigner, your not being able to speak Mandarin may be the downside. The lady in Dalian speaks very little English but she asked her English-speaking friend for help. Where there is business, the property owner will find a way. So no worries.