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Understanding the Pitfalls of Loft Living

Posted: Jun 17 2016Last Updated: Jun 17 2016
The size of Hong Kong properties is a commonly derided topic, yet there are gems in the rough that boast practical layouts which optimize a property’s saleable area in addition to featuring high ceilings, large windows and an abundance of wall space to let your creativity shine: loft spaces.
In Hong Kong, landlords who own commercially zoned properties, have followed the worldwide trend to convert these spacious units into attractive, value for money living spaces that include structural elements like open ceilings, polished concrete floors, crossbeams and steel, creative lighting and space for expressive art. 
The functionality and design of these bare and unadorned “apartments” are hard to resist and real estate agents in Hong Kong often get asked for assistance by prospective tenants, who are interested in these commercial properties for residential use.
In Hong Kong, this does not correspond with the “Zoning Law” which dictates how real estate property and land can or cannot be used and which does not permit the use of commercial or industrial space in warehouses to be rented for residential purposes. 
Many of these former commercially used units can be found in Aberdeen, Ap Lei Chau, Chai Wan and other industrial areas, albeit not without significant risk for both sides, landlord and tenant. If the government steps in and issues an eviction note, the tenant has to move out without legal recourse.
Real estate agents in Hong Kong are able to assist in renting such a property provided both parties sign a disclaimer and declare in writing that they have been informed about the risks of entering into such an agreement but wish to proceed nevertheless.
In case of any dispute between tenant and landlord, such a tenancy agreement would not hold out in court and may not be enforceable. The tenant carries the risk of potential loss of the security deposit or any other advance rents paid to the landlord.
This lifestyle can be quite lonely during weekends, when restaurants and shops in the area are closed and offices and other premises are empty. During the week it may be quite busy and noisy or even smelly, depending on the nature of businesses occupying neighboring units. Your neighbor could be running a printing machine or other loud equipment and it is worth evaluating this ahead of signing any agreements.
On the other hand, you can turn up the volume of your TV or music and nobody will notice. Your neighbor could also end up being one of Hong Kong’s famous private kitchens, an art gallery or trendy fashion designer! It is definitely a unique way of living and may be worth a try as long as everyone knows the risks involved!

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