Date
22 March 2017
In Metropole Building in North Point, mini-flats (inset right) are very common. In cramped spaces, a shared toilet doesn't even have a door. Photos: Wikipedia, Apple Daily
In Metropole Building in North Point, mini-flats (inset right) are very common. In cramped spaces, a shared toilet doesn't even have a door. Photos: Wikipedia, Apple Daily

Bloody brawl in North Point exposes woes of mini-flat tenants

Two men staying in sub-divided units, or so-called mini flats, in an apartment in North Point got into a violent quarrel Wednesday which led to both of them being hospitalized for knife wounds.

The fight started as a tenant complained that a neighbor had turned on his TV too loud, Apple Daily reported, citing the incident as an example of the problems faced by mini-flat dwellers in the city.

According to the report, the clash took place at an apartment unit on the sixth floor of the Metropole Building on King’s Road.

The apartment, said to measure just 578 square feet, had been carved up into 24 mini-flats, with each tenant being charged more than HK$2,000 (US$258) in monthly rent.

Among the tenants were two men surnamed Mok and Li. There were constant frictions between the two ever since Li moved into a unit.

On Wednesday, the tensions boiled over as Li, who is said to be 42 years in age, complained about the noise from Mok’s TV.

Rather than turn the volume down, Mok, 41, got into a war of words with his neighbor. As tempers flared, the two men attacked each other with knives, the report said, citing fellow tenants and the police.

Both suffered serious injuries and had to be taken to a hospital. The police, meanwhile, charged them with dangerous behavior and placed them under arrest.

Apple Daily noted that the incident exposes the underlying problems confronting many mini-flat tenants in Hong Kong.

Living in very tiny spaces, tenants have to put with bad living conditions and several inconveniences. The atmosphere, not surprisingly, causes frictions between neighbors.

In this particular apartment in North Point, all the tenants, for instance, had to share just two toilets.

The owner is said to have bought the apartment in 2010 for HK$2.5 million before dividing it into 24 units, all of which are now occupied.

Given the relatively high rents for the tiny sub-divided units, the landlord has reaped a 24 percent return annually on his investment, according to the report.

A real estate agent was quoted as saying that strong rental demand has prompted many owners of apartments in the neighborhood to remodel their properties into multiple mini-flats.

The tiny units have been very popular although the tenants have to put up with a bad living environment, he said.

A 78-year-old tenant at Metropole Building who is paying HK$2,100 monthly rent for his mini-flat said he is concerned about the background of some fellow tenants. Many are very low-income people or drug addicts, he said.

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