In a bid to curb rising property prices, authorities in Beijing on Saturday put in place new real estate curbs that bar single residents from buying a second apartment.

The new rules, which also mandate higher down payments for second home purchases, have triggered wide debate in recent days. The measures had been expected after the government announced earlier this month that it would put in place curbs to bring down housing prices.

The new rules were met with angry reactions from members of China’s active Internet community. Many bloggers on the popular Chinese Twitter equivalent Sina Weibo - where the measures were among the most discussed topics on Saturday, generating more than 4 million posts and comments - argued that the measures favoured the wealthy, by raising down payment requirements, and also unfairly discriminated against

unmarried residents.

Internet polls suggested few expect the curbs to bring down property prices, with 90 per cent of respondents in one Sina Weibo poll saying they believed housing prices would continue to rise.

Earlier this month, the government announced a 20 per cent capital gains tax, up from around 1 or 2 per cent, on sales of second-hand residential property – a move that sparked a spurt in divorce cases in some cities such as Shanghai, as the rules allowed divorced couples who owned two houses to sell property tax-free if the homes were registered in different names. “First, the property rules sparked fake divorces,” wrote one blogger on Saturday. "Now, with the curbs on single residents buying homes, we will see fake marriages!”.

Rumours of the expected announcement had sparked panicked property transactions in the capital in recent days, with several real estate companies saying they had been swamped by customers who were anticipating the curbs.

Wang Xinghua, a real estate analyst with Home Link, a major local real estate broker, told State media revenues in March were double the monthly average. "The housing market might cool down for a while after the new tax policies are in place," he said, adding, "In the long run, however, housing prices will not drop, as rigid demand is still there".