Homebuyers and tenants, who are struggling with London rents and house prices, are opting for increasingly tiny living spaces.

The construction of so-called ‘micro homes’ has been on the rise in the UK for the past decade, since changes to the rules on minimum property sizes were introduced to tackle housing shortages.

Up to 2,000 newly-built micro flats are sold in London each year, representing around 3% of new home sales. Many are constructed from former shops and offices – and with the impact of the pandemic leading to empty high street buildings, experts predict that the trend will only grow.

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The government recommends properties offer a minimum of 37 sqm living space, but local authorities can decide whether to enforce the guidance. It’s thought that as many as one in 15 London flats falls below this standard.

Barratt is the first major house builder to launch mini apartments, in a former Kodak factory in Harrow. The homes have built-in wardrobes, slimmer kitchen worktops and pull-out shelves, aimed, according Barratt, at the “Instagram generation”.

Rioch Fitzpatrick, lives in a studio flat in north London that’s smaller than the average hotel bedroom. “It’s probably a bit odd, people coming in and seeing your bed in the kitchen,” he says.

The rent – £900 a month including gas and electricity – is significantly lower than the going rate for a normal-sized studio in the area. But there are downsides: “I have to sleep with earplugs because the boiler is right above my bed. And my sink is my kitchen sink – that’s where I wash up and shave and do my teeth.”

For housing analyst Neal Hudson: “There will be demand for this and it’s got to be attractive to first-time buyers. There are a lot of people who’d rather have a micro flat than live in a shared house.”

Read more about this story in The Guardian.