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China city blocks sale of tiny ‘pigeon nest’ homes

A view of the Shenzhen skylineImage copyright
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Residents of Shenzhen have seen house prices soar in recent years, making home ownership unaffordable for many

Officials in a southern Chinese city have blocked the sale of apartments so small that they were nicknamed “pigeon nests” by the media.

The authorities in Shenzhen acted after photos of the micro-homes went viral on social media. Priced at 880,000 yuan ($132,000; £102,000), each of the nine units has a fold-down bed and what’s described by the Sixth Tone website as a “kitchen-cum-bathroom”. There also appears to be a television on the wall above the cooker.

Officials said each apartment in the 15-storey building is 6 sq m (64 sq ft). Current national regulations require residential dwellings to be at least 22 sq m.

Several of the apartments were snapped up by eager buyers, but the local land authority stopped sales after an investigation found the space had been illegally converted, the South China Morning Post reports.

The officials said the number of flats sold had been exaggerated by real estate agencies. Those who had hoped to purchase one of the homes will now have their contracts rescinded, according to China Radio International.

Users of the microblogging site Weibo are amused and aghast in equal measure, particularly at the proximity of cooking and lavatory facilities. “A toilet outside the kitchen… the smell of poo in cooking – great,” reads one comment. Many express frustration about housing costs – one calls the situation “crazy”, while another remarks: “It’s sad that nearly a million will buy you your own multi-functional prison.” But, as one person points out, some people are willing to pay it: “While you were still busy laughing, these have been selling out.”

Homebuyers are facing soaring house prices in several major Chinese cities, and in Shenzhen – a hub for technology firms – the situation is particularly bad. In the 12 months to April 2016, prices rose by nearly 63% in the city.

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