Rending an apartment or a house in China is the same thing like what we experience in West. In my personal opinion the biggest problem is our language capacity is not enough to handle the issue. There are ways to get an flat or a house by using internet, real estate agency, or asking your colleague or friends for help.
Finding an apartment online. Finding an apartment to rent online is not easy in China. There are thousands of apartments on the Internet and it is hard to tell the quality, even if they look very good in the picture. You will have to spend some time at it. If you see a really good one and it is available, contact the landlord or the agency and visit it as soon as possible. After visiting you can ask them to keep the apartment for you, but the landlord won’t hold it long without a deposit. Once other people decide to give a deposit, the flat is gone. Unless you speak Chinese, looking online for your flat is not a really practical solution, but it can give you a rough idea of the market.