Hong Kong riled by latest tiny 'space capsule' homes

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Screenshot of the advert for the propertyImage source, rent.591.com.hk

Hong Kong is well-known for having some of the world's tiniest and most expensive homes, but one landlord is offering a modern twist on its famous "coffin apartments".

Ten "space capsule" units have just come on the market in the western Sai Ying Pun district, offering a total of 24sq ft (2.2 sq m) of living space for HK$5,100 ($658; £538) a month.

The listing on a local real estate platform says each pod comes with a television, air-conditioning and a memory foam mattress.

But despite such mod-cons, many netizens are enraged, describing the capsule as a glorified coffin and the landlord as unscrupulous.

The listing first appeared on Sunday. The leaseholder, surnamed Wang, boasts it has special lights which "create the feeling of being in space".

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Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Hong Kong is famously has some of the most crowded housing on the planet

BBC News contacted Mr Wang, who said he's the husband of Ms Wang.

He told BBC News they are only subletting the "space capsules", which are crammed into a 960-sq ft flat; they are not seeking big profits but just to share the rent with others.

A kitchen and a toilet will be shared among occupants.

Mr Wang also dismissed fire safety concerns, saying: "The buildings department states that no registration is required if fewer than 12 people live in the same flat."

He added that fire-resistant materials are used for the capsules.

Image source, Rent 591
Image caption,
'Space capsule' pods in a Hong Kong flat

Ms Wang is asking for HK$5,100 per month for each pod. She offers discounted rates for people who rent the pod for more than three months.

If every bed is rented, Ms Wang will be able to fetch more than $HK51,000 in a month at maximum.

An 800-sq ft flat in the same building listed on the same website asks for a monthly rent of HK$24,500.

"Space capsule" pods are not entirely new. In Japan, "space capsule" hotels are popular for travellers who want to cut expenses on accommodation. However, this listing in Hong Kong requires a minimum stay of one month.

The building is 48 years old, according to property agency website Centadata. But there is likely to be a great demand, as the neighbourhood is close to the central business district and the University of Hong Kong.

A similar "space capsule" flat in Sham Shui Po is also listed on Airbnb, but Mr Wang said they had nothing to do with that property.

'Sleeping in a coffin'

Partitioned flats and cage homes are not novelties in Hong Kong, but netizens react to the "space capsules" with incredulity and fury.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Hong Kong no longer has the controversial "cage" apartments, but many people's homes are little better

"This is not a space capsule. This is sleeping in a coffin before your death," said Facebook user Ralf Cheung.

Jeri Lee said: "It has a fancy name 'space capsule', but this is nothing but an enlarged dog house. Asking for HK$5,100 has gone too far."

Hong Kong's property prices are among the highest in the world. Housing has become a hot-button political issue, and housing issues are in almost every politician's campaign platform.

"The government has to build more public housing so that citizens can lead a stable life," wrote Gnixu Zhong.