Standards on minimum space for apartments in Vietnam have decreased by nearly haft compared to 10 years ago due to increasing housing demand, especially in metropolises such as Ho Chi Minh City.
The minimum area of an apartment has been narrowed down from 45 square meters, which was promulgated in 2005, to 25 square meters.
The new space standard is listed in the Ministry of Construction’s draft regulations, which are expected to take effect in the near future.
Several developers have been ignoring the existing rules to trim down their apartments in order to increase the number of available flats, given the high demand.
One example is the Tan My Apartment Complex in District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, which was inaugurated in 2009, offering apartments just 36 square meters in area.
According to Nguyen Manh Ha, president of the Vietnam National Real Estate Association (VNREA), the current minimum space standard (45 square meters) has showed several shortcomings over the past decade.
The current number of housing projects cannot meet the rising demand of buyers, especially working-class residents, Ha elaborated.
The larger the apartment is, the more expensive it is, making it unaffordable for these homebuyers, he said.
Regarding the concern that building many 25-square-meter apartments can cause overpopulation or pressure on the local infrastructure, the VNREA president reassured that such a problem would not happen as long as developers diversify their projects.
An apartment building does not need to include only small flats, he stated, adding that it could comprise one-, two-, or three-bedroom units.
It is recommended that the number of 25-square-meter apartments account for some 10 percent of a housing project.
The state can also manage the average number of residents in one apartment so as to prevent overcrowding, Ha suggested.
Affordable for young people
At the TA Apartment Complex in District 12, the developer did follow the space standard of 45 square meters when constructing the apartments.
However, each flat was divided into two equal sections, each with their own bathrooms, kitchens, balconies, and even separate doors.
The separation was aimed at providing smaller apartments at lower costs for people with an average income.
Owning half an apartment on the seventh floor, H.L. stated that the place is enough for the daily activities of her family.
Household appliances such as television sets, refrigerators, washing machines, tables and chairs are arranged logically so that the home can still look spacious.
Being married for just over a year, L. said she and her husband could only afford such a small apartment.
According to Thi, a broker at the apartment building, about 30 units, 44 square meters each, have been divided into 22-square-meter ones, most of which have been occupied.
These flats are often sought by younger people or newly-weds thanks to their cheap prices, Thi said, adding that each apartment can be leased out at VND3.5 million (US$154) a month or sold at VND820 million ($36,090) to VND900 million ($39,611).
At another apartment building in Binh Tan District, many units about 38 square meters in area are in demand.
Nguyen Thi Lan, an owner of such a flat, said she and her husband prefer a small apartment commensurate with their financial capacity.