Other occupants not amused as Hanoi, HCMC apartments become mini dorms

By Ngoc Diem   November 15, 2023 | 04:38 am PT
Other occupants not amused as Hanoi, HCMC apartments become mini dorms
An apartment is arranged with many bunk beds like a dormitory in Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Diem
Many apartment owners in Hanoi and HCMC are installing bunk beds and sleeping pods to accommodate multiple tenants, but their neighbors are not too happy.

Huyen Trang, a university freshman in Hanoi, rents a sleep pod, commonly called a "sleep box" in Vietnam, in an apartment on Tran Duy Hung Street.

She pays a monthly rent of VND3 million (US$125) and gets access to all amenities including the pool and shopping center.

The pod next to hers is rented by the day for some VND200,000.

After the sleeping pod model appeared in townhouses and became very popular, owners of apartments in Hanoi and HCMC too installed bunk beds dormitory- or homestay-style.

Many of their tenants say they prefer them because of the modern living space and amenities and services available to them.

In Hanoi, this arrangement has become common in a 24-story apartment tower on Nghiem Xuan Yem Street, a 32-story tower in Dai Kim Ward, Hoang Mai District and a 29-story tower on Tran Phu Street, Ha Dong District.

They are leased out by the owners themselves or lessees who renovate the apartments and subleases sleeping pods and bunk beds.

The rent for each is VND1.6-3 million, and includes maintenance fee and all utilities.

In some places, where it is difficult to find long-term tenants, owners also rent out the pods by the day.

An apartment with several sleep boxes. Photo courtesy of the apartment’s owner

An apartment with several sleep boxes. Photo courtesy of the apartment’s owner

Quoc, a veteran real estate investor in HCMC did the math to explain to VnExpress why this model has become wildly popular with landlords in the last two or three years.

He said the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is VND12 million a month in HCMC excluding electricity, water and service fees. But if the owner installs three or four bunk beds per bedroom to accommodate 12-16 people, the total monthly rent could be VND20-28 million, he said.

Tran Khanh, chairman of the Hanoi Building Management Operating Club, said more and more apartments are being turned into dormitories, homestays and sleeping boxes due to demand from people with low incomes and those who just need a place to sleep at night.

Some also like the comforts of an apartment without paying too much, he said.

Trang said many students like her want to have a good place to live.

For the rent she pays, were she to rent a house by herself, she would have to live far from the city center or in a shabby place, she pointed out.

Nevertheless, there are inconveniences like having to share a few toilets with dozens of people, she said.

Neighbors’ ire

But her annoyance pales in comparison with that of neighbors as the population in their apartment building explodes as a result of having a dozen occupants to a unit.

Ngan, who lives in a 31-story apartment building on Nguyen Xien Street, Thanh Xuan District, said residents have complained to the building management many times about the crowded apartments posing risks of fires and explosions and even threats to social order and security.

A recurrent problem is overloading of elevators and parking lots, she said.

In early October some occupants blocked the entrance to the parking lot to protest against the management’s failure to control the situation.

Conflicts between residents and sleep-box tenants became so frequent and fierce that the building developer had to convene a meeting with owners and the local police.

It was agreed that people leasing bunks beds and pods would liquidate all contracts within a month and after that limit the number of tenants to six adults in the case of a three-bedroom apartment and five in a two-bedroom unit.

Khanh said to get construction approval apartment developers carefully calculate the expected population size to ensure it is appropriate for local conditions and technical and social infrastructure could be adequately provided.

Thus, a big increase in population throws things out of kilter and affects the quality of life.

Chu Thi Minh Ngoc, head of property management at real estate consultancy CBRE Vietnam, said dividing apartments into smaller units is not approved by the management agency so it poses risks.

Khanh said it is necessary to clearly stipulate the maximum number of people allowed to live in each apartment before they are handed over to the owners.

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