By Susan Strongman
An Auckland real estate agency renting tiny pods as "one-bedroom apartments" for $200 a week has removed the ad from Trade Me.
The ad showed photos of eight small "state of the art" capsules stacked two high, with step access and violet lighting, The Wireless reports.
Prospective tenants were encouraged to rent the pods, and share a kitchen and living space with other pod-tenants.
But the Trade Me listing for the capsules, which had been seen more than 2000 times, was taken down within hours of being put up.
An agent for the company that listed the rental pods would not say why the ad was removed.
Advertised under the heading "City centre, 1 bedroom", each pod appeared to contain a single mattress, a pillow, a fire hydrant, and a mirror.
Reminiscent of Japan's famous capsule hotels, the bottom pod was advertised for $180 per week, and the top pod $200 a week.
"Live in a prime inner city location for a fraction of the cost!," the ad read.
"Enjoy a unique living opportunity in the heart of the city. Rent your own individual sleeping pod/bedroom. These state of the art pods include internet connection and a flat screen TV as well as secure swipe card access. Each pod comes with its own locker too.
"One person per pod."
Tenants would have access to a living and kitchen space shared with three other pod renters, according to the ad, and utilities were included in the rent.
Yesterday, The Wireless called the advertiser, Ray White's Supercity Rental Management Limited, to arrange a viewing.
But within half an hour the agent called back to say the ad had been removed and the viewing was cancelled.
Hugh Pavletich, co-founder of the Demographia International Housing Affordability Surveys, said the appearance of the pods to rent was symptomatic of Auckland's over-inflated housing market.
Auckland housing now cost 10 times household income, Pavletich said.
"This is further evidence of how ridiculous the Auckland housing situation has got. When this government came in in 2008, Auckland housing was 6.4 times household income. When Nick Smith was appointed in early 2013 it was 6.7 times household incomes. Today it is 10 times.
"We're going to see these nonsense solutions, when what we need to see desperately is actual affordable housing being built."
In January 2010, the New York Times reported that Tokyo's Capsule Hotel Shinjuku's 510 capsules had become popular living spaces for those affected by the country's recession.
Is it a boarding house?
According to the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment, a boarding house is where a tenant rents a room, rather than a whole house. Facilities like the kitchen and bathroom are shared with other tenants, and the house is occupied by at least six tenants at a time.
However, according to the ad for the pods on Trade Me, only three tenants would share a communal space.
Under Auckland Council's 2008 hostels bylaw, a boarding house is shared by five or more tenants. According to the bylaw, if a room is smaller than 4.5sq m, it cannot be rented to sleep a person.
In a 1999 report by the Mental Health Commission (now the Health and Disability Commissioner), boarding houses were noted as filling a gap when there was an absence of other suitable accommodation, or where public sector housing provision was lacking.
"Often, they provide 'housing of last resort' for some consumers, while for some others they are a positive choice," the report stated.
What are pods?
Pods, or capsules are extremely small "rooms" intended to provide cheap, basic accommodation, made famous in Japan where the first capsule hotel opened in 1979.
The pods advertised as central Auckland apartments look very similar to a model advertised for sale on alibaba.com for US$600 ($827) each (for a minimum of six capsules). These pods are just over 7 cubic metres.