Date
23 July 2017
A rooftop with only a toilet rents for HK$1,500 a month. More than half of the units in Cullinan West (left) are studios of 267 square feet .
Photos: HKEJ, Facebook/元朗村屋討論區
A rooftop with only a toilet rents for HK$1,500 a month. More than half of the units in Cullinan West (left) are studios of 267 square feet . Photos: HKEJ, Facebook/元朗村屋討論區

Living on rooftop with only a toilet

Amid surging home prices, perhaps what we must have is a toilet because we only need water to survive.

In a city where new residential units in urban areas are selling at more than HK$20,000 per square foot — a two-bedroom unit is asking for a monthly rental of close to HK$20,000 — it is somewhat surprising to find a place that costs HK$50 a day.

In a blog post, someone is trying to lease the rooftop of a Yuen Long village house in Kam Sheung Road for HK$1,500 a month under an interesting headline: “with water, electricity and toilet, much better than sleeping on the street”.

The blog adds that the tenant can enjoy sunshine in the afternoon and stars in the evening on the 150-square-foot premises.

The flip side is the place has nothing but a toilet and a sink.

No door, no bed, no closet, but one can sleep in a tent (better off than a Gypsy?)

No privacy as well, but at least it is not a shoebox.

But that is life.

Cynics would say all of us live in a shoebox. Pathetic enough but Hong Kong people live in a mini shoebox.

In the coming week, all eyes will be on how Sun Hung Kai Properties, Hong Kong’s biggest developer, will price Cullinan West, its latest residential project above the Nam Cheong station along the West Rail line.

More than half of the units are studios of 267 square feet, the smallest among all subway station flats in an urban district.

The price stands to hit HK$5 million, equivalent to a 2,000-square-foot house in a popular area in Canada that I know.

Mind you, Nam Cheong is in Sham Shui Po, one of the oldest and poorest districts in Hong Kong and home to many of its 170,000 subdivided-flat tenants.

As home prices continue soar, many people are moving away from core districts to places like Tuen Mun and Yuen Long, where we used to travel for at least an hour.

But the MTR’s West Rail cut travel time, and so the going rate in Yuen Long and Tuen Mun stands above HK$10,000 on average, if not higher.

Village houses in far-flung areas are an option. Some owners can get between HK$6,000 and HK$7,000 monthly rental for a 700-square-foot unit. Tenants often need to travel extra time to get anywhere.

But apparently, some owners want more money, hence the idea of leasing rooftops only with toilets.

Not all village house owners can lease their rooftop because they are subject to restrictions under the Building Ordinance.

But it now appears that the government would rather speed up housing supply and may allow this temporary arrangement instead of cracking down on homeowners.

Otherwise, who can help the people who sleep under bridges or on rooftops?

BK/AC/RA

EJ Insight writer

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe