Shenzhen bans sale of tiny 6 sq m flats after online uproar

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 September, 2016, 7:53pm
UPDATED : Monday, 26 September, 2016, 9:52pm

Shenzhen authorities have invalidated the sale of a series of tiny 6 square metre flats costing 880,000 yuan each, saying the properties violated existing laws and regulations.

The move came after an online outcry after local media reported that 11 mini studio apartments, with floor areas ranging from 5.73 and 7.48 square meters located in the 15-storey Qiaocheng Shangyu building in the city’s Nanshan district, sold out in half a day on Saturday.

The news went viral with Chinese internet users calling the apartments the smallest new homes on the mainland – the latest example of the property fever spreading across the nation.

Shenzhen has seen the fastest growth in residential property prices worldwide. Statistics released by the city’s urban planning, land and resources commission show average prices reached 61,756 yuan per square meter in June.

Shenzhen citizens now spend an average of 4.2 million yuan on buying their first apartment, an increase of 75 per cent from the average 2.4 million yuan paid in 2013, according to Centaline Property.

Due to growing concerns aired by the public, the city’s urban planning, land and resources commission began looking into the mini studio property project late Sunday and announced on Monday afternoon that the sales were cancelled after it found the transactions involved false information and the properties had illegal conversion problems.

A statement released on the commission’s official microblog said the reports that 11 of the apartments were sold was false news spread by four local property agencies. Only four apartments had been sold before the official investigation began, the statement said.

The commission also said the developer of the property project violated rules regarding illegal conversion. According to authorities, the apartments costing about 880,000 yuan each, or 140,000 yuan per square metre, were recorded at about 6 square metres on the property ownership certificate but had a usable area of more than 12 square metres. This compares with other apartments in the same building, from 35 to 45 square metres in size, selling for the equivalent of only 70,000 yuan per square metre.

The building is located on Shenzhen’s Xinzhong Road next to Baishizhou community, five densely packed tenement villages in the heart of Shenzhen that serve as a hub for cheap housing for more than 100,000 migrant workers and immigrants.

On the streets of Baishizhou pedestrians dodge passing cars and bikes amid rows of “handshake” buildings where neighbours can reach out of their windows to greet one another.

“The living and hygiene conditions are not good here, but property prices nearby have been soaring to over 70,000 yuan [per square metre],” said a local resident.

A real estate salesman told the Post on Monday morning that the mini studio apartments were not for sale. “The elevators are under routine maintenance. We are sorry, but all decorated show flats are not available for visiting,” he said.

The salesman refused to offer further details about the apartments. According online posts by netizens, the apartments were equipped with a built-in bed and wardrobe, with the bed folding down from the wall when needed.

According to the “Design Code for Residential Buildings” published by Beijing in 2012, residential units in China are to be no less than 22 square metres (236 square feet) in size.

In Hong Kong, new projects offering tiny flats as small as 163 square feet in size have been selling quickly this month, snapped by investors seeing good rental potential. No size restriction on flats is in force in Hong Kong.

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