They are tiny apartments about the size of a standard car parking space. Studio flats for sale in central Melbourne and Footscray are as small as 15 square metres.
SOURCE | theage.com.au | Marika Dobbin
Micro-apartments are a trend in the world’s Western cities but not everyone is in favour of them.
Often the bedrooms have no direct sunlight… People who buy such small spaces don’t live in them.
Most are less than 18.5 square metres, including separate bathrooms. They typically come furnished, sometimes with built-in beds and other amenities. Few come with parking.
A host of them for sale in Melbourne cost $115,000 to $165,000. All have a single small window and a kitchenette the size of a broom cupboard. The smallest was 11.2 square metres plus a closet bathroom, built several years ago at 268 Flinders Street, in the city.
Agent Barry Plant pulled it off the market on Friday saying it was ”unsellable” for the reserve of $160,000. Banks would not lend for it despite a new tenant just having moved in, an agent said.
Another tenant in the building, Josephine Lee, pays $300 a week to live in a flat the size of the one for sale. Ms Lee, 37, a Southgate chef, said she was used to small spaces. Her flat at home in Malaysia was only slightly bigger. ”I can hear my neighbours moving around and it can get pretty loud but it’s bearable,” she said. ”It’s a great location and I’m happy here for at least another year.”
Investors usually buy such apartments and rent them to international students and workers.
Building authorities in Sydney, Adelaide and London have acted to stop such development by requiring a one-bedroom flat to be a minimum of 50 square metres. Melbourne Council is considering similar rules because of concerns about residents’ quality of life.
The median size of a new one-bedder in inner Melbourne has dropped from 52 to 44 square metres in five years, according to research by Oliver Hume Real Estate group.
RMIT planning professor Michael Buxton said the micro trend constituted ”rampant exploitation of renters” and called for minimum size standards.
”Often the bedrooms have no direct sunlight,” he said. ”Developers make money by such cramming but also by not providing car parking and other facilities. People who buy such small spaces don’t live in them.”
However, other cities have embraced micros. The Urban Development Institute of Australia said there was demand from Melbourne buyers and renters. ”It’s very dangerous trying to interfere with the market by having a minimum size because we need the choice of affordable stock,” chief executive officer Tony De Domenico said. ”If there are people who are prepared to live in smaller apartments, and most are not, why should they have to pay double for space they don’t need?”