A report has revealed a shocking trend of tiny flats being let out in London for the same price as a family home in other parts of the country. The flats are so small that agents have coined a new phrase to describe them: semi studios.
So just how small, and how expensive can they be?
Researchers at the Daily Mail identified some of the smallest up for rent at the moment. There was one in Pimlico, little bigger than a single bedroom. The owner had crammed in a sink, fridge, microwave, wardrobe, chest of drawers and a bed into the space - there was also a shower cubicle in the middle of the room - but there was no space for a toilet. They were asking for £605 a month.
Another in Kensington cost £545 a month, and although it is being marketed as having an open-plan kitchenette, this does feature a single bed in the middle of it: the microwave is also situated directly next to a shower cubicle.
These are far from unusual. A quick hunt reveals another in Chiswick with a similar layout - boasting that the washer/dryer and bathroom are only shared with two other flats. That's on at £607 a month. Or there's the Baron's Court bedsit, which adds an air of mis-matched furniture and exposed pipework for £650 a month - for that you have to share the bathroom.
Tiny HomesThese aren't the first tiny homes to have attracted tenants. We reported back In December about the Cambridge sheds that were illegally let out - the bizarre layout included a toilet in the middle of the kitchen
A hunt for the smallest flats in London reveals a number of contenders which are even smaller than these semi studios. A studio 'apartment' in a block near Harrods went on the market in 2012. The property measures just 10ft 4in by 8ft 4in. It contains a main room which is barely big enough for a single bed, and a tiny second wet room and toilet. The sellers were asking £90,000.
Another tiny flat which sold in 2007 was the former cleaner's cupboard in Chelsea, which measures 11ft 3in by 7ft 3in. Despite the fact it required a complete refit it was on the market for £170,000.
And finally, there's the 7ft 6in by 3ft 4in studio in Notting Hill. Half of the room is taken up with a tiny bathroom and cupboard - and the bed is built on top of them. The space next to the bed is a mini kitchenette. It was built out of a former cupboard during the 1980s property boom, and has been valued at over £100,000.
Why?Small properties have their fans. There are plenty of students living in halls of residence who exist in a room no bigger than these semi studios - although arguably many of them still have a room at home for all their belongings. For those who work hard and play hard and are just looking for somewhere to sleep, this may suit them perfectly.
In the US there is even something called the Tiny House movement, which champions living in smaller spaces, as a way to escape the crushing cost of buying or renting large properties.
And, of course, there's the fact that many people can't afford anything else. With a one-bedroom flat somewhere like Notting Hill easily renting for £1,500 a month, those on smaller budgets have to be a bit more creative. They can opt for a room in a shared flat, but if they want the privacy and security of their own place they face a huge commute or a tiny home.
But what do you think? Would you live there?