Just seven years ago, $750 got renters the average studio in the University District. Now, it’s only enough money for a super-small micro-unit that combines the bathroom and living area into one tiny living quarters.
At $750 a month, a new apartment opening in the University District is one of the cheapest in Seattle. So what do you get for that price? A room the size of a parking space with a toilet that’s not even behind its own door.
The landlord for a congregate housing building opening on Seventh Avenue Northeast recently posted an ad online searching for tenants, and it was widely circulated this week in a Reddit post that referred to the room as a “prison cell.”
The ad features a 130-square-foot “studio” that contains a sink, shower and toilet. The entire space is in one room: The toilet and shower are open to the rest of the living space. There is no kitchen.
The rent is $750 a month, plus a $1,000 deposit, and includes access to a congregate kitchen area and free utilities.
“This is a definite MUST SEE!!” the ad says.
For perspective, just seven years ago, $750 got renters the average University District studio, according to Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors. And the typical studio in the neighborhood is more than three times bigger than the one featured in the ad, with a shower and toilet in a separate room called a “bathroom.”
A spokeswoman for the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections confirmed the room meets the city’s code standards because there is no place to cook or prepare food there. And officials with Public Health – Seattle and King County, which controls the local plumbing code, said the building meets their standards, as well.
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The property manager for the building, Zerky Liang of Seattle-based WPI Real Estate, said on Thursday that “we have many candidates interested in the unit.”
“Also, we are in the process of adding a divider between the bathroom and the rest of the unit whether a sliding door or curtain,” he said in an email.
He said the building was designed “with the thoughts of offering affordable housing in a high rent market. It is an alternative to a rooming house essentially.”
So what kind of deal is it?
The average studio in the University District now costs $1,215, or $2.60 per square foot, according to Dupre + Scott. The room in the ad comes out to more than double that — $5.77 per square foot.
But a search through a couple of popular rental sites shows it’s rare to find a private place in the city for $750 or less — rent that low usually requires roommates. The cheapest private rental in the city listed on Craigslist runs $670 a month.
The apartment is indicative of two major trends in Seattle: soaring rents that put Seattle among the hottest housing markets in the country, and the rise in micro-units offering cheaper and smaller places to live
Across the city, rents have risen 41 percent since the start of 2013, according to Zillow.
That’s prompted a demand for cheaper options, which typically means construction of much smaller units. Thousands of micro-units have sprung up since 2009 with rents as low as $500 a month. Recent regulations have helped curtail the growth of buildings, however.
The four-story apartment building featured in the ad was built this year after the developer knocked down a single-family house on the 3,110-square-foot triangular lot. From the outside, the building looks like many of the modern, midrise buildings popping up around town. About a half-mile from the outskirts of the University of Washington campus, the rooms are marketed toward students.
Plans filed with the county indicate the developer squeezed 23 units into the 5,640-square-foot building, but the exact layout and size of all the different units isn’t clear. Zerky said there are apartments in the building available for up to 200 square feet for as much as $1,000 a month.
A company called Oriental Knight Investment Group bought the property last year for $2.8 million.