To anyone who has ever looked for an apartment here, it should come as no surprise that Hong Kong is the most expensive housing market in the world, but for the savvy renter there are still some true gems to be found.
Take, for instance, this cozy little charmer at the private Kingswood Villas housing estate in Tin Shui Wai, formerly listed on the property website 28hse.com for a very attractive HK$3,700 (US$471) per month — including utilities.
The flat is a three-minute walk from the light rail station, has 24-hour security, comes with access to clubhouse facilities, and, best of all, is a 45-square-foot converted bathroom with a twin-size loft bed elegantly perched above a cheekily fetid squat toilet. It’s the height of modern convenience.
According to Apple Daily, the listing in question (since removed) was located in Locwood Court, one of the housing complexes within Kingswood Villas, which is one of the biggest private housing estates in the SAR.
A floor plan from real estate agency Centadata shows that the the apartment was once one of two bathrooms in a 640-square-foot three-bedroom unit. But when reporters posing as possible renters arrived at the unit, they found a few renovations had been made.
First to go was the stodgy old bathtub (yuck!), then the bulky Western-style toilet, which was replaced with a sleek squat model positioned to force the tenant to crouch like a feral animal underneath the sink to relieve him or herself. It’s the epitome of efficiency.
Without the tub, there’s room for an elevated mattress — situated next to the bathroom’s extractor fan for maximum ventilation. And with the mattress raised to eye level, there’s plenty of room for shelving, and even a small desk of the sort that an inmate in a maximum security prison might enjoy (lucky!).
Apple Daily found that the landlord was not only offering up the bathrooms as individual units to rent, but had also lopped off part of the living room to create yet another bedroom, making the space even smaller — oops, homier! — for tenants.
The landlord also showed the reporter another similarly divided apartment at Sherwood Court, also in the Kingswood Villa complex, with a similar — albeit larger — bathroom-turned-apartment unit going for HK$3,900 (US$497) a month.
The landlord said that the other “larger and nicer rooms” — that is, the ones that weren’t strictly bathrooms in a former life — were on offer for HK$6,000 (US$764) per month.
With the three bedrooms and converted living room going for HK$6,000, and the two bathbedrooms going for HK$3,700, the landlord stands to reap up to HK$31,400 (US$3,950) a month in rent from the Locwood unit.
Apple Daily reports that the two apartments featured in the report were purchased in 2010. According to a deed of mutual covenant for Kingswood Villas seen by the newspaper, the owners cannot make any structural changes to the apartments without approval from the authorities.
When the reporter quizzed the landlord over the phone as to whether the renovations had been approved by the authorities, she replied: “We’ve received letters from the government, the Buildings Department has followed up with us, but they haven’t informed us what you would need to do.”
She then reassured the reporter that they weren’t breaking the law, told them not to worry, and asked why they were asking so many questions.
The Tin Shui Wai toilet apartment joins a list of other exciting toilet-adjacent offerings in the city’s property market, like the flat that’s so small the bathroom door can’t close (a steal for a first-time buyer at just US$737,000), and the 40-square-foot palace whose toilet access is even more convenient than the Kingswood units.
The latter was going for just HK$2,900 a month, but, hey, no desk.