What is a Maisonette - My Conveyancing Specialist

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22nd April 2021

What is a Maisonette

You will come across plenty of different spaces in the realtor market when looking for a property to buy or rent. While the market contains lots of apartments, houses and flats,  a maisonette house maybe some of the best properties you never knew existed after learning more about what they offer, what they are and what they can add to your life.

Maisonette

It’s essential to note that the word maisonette has different meanings based on your location. For example, a maisonette in the United Kingdom denotes a self-contained flat covering more than one floor. What’s more, it comes with stairs inside. One of the primary features that differentiate a maisonette from other properties is its personal access point. Yes, you will have a door that leads you straight to the streets.

The Americans often refer to maisonettes as duplexes due to the building being a split-level flat. In most cases, you will discover maisonettes designed from large houses transformed into several residences for the sellers and landlords to make the most of their value. Also, you may find them situated on top of businesses to make the most of the available space. Keep on reading to find out everything you need to know about a maisonette.

What Is A Maisonette?

It’s tricky to define what a maisonette is because it has various definitions depending on your location. As said earlier, the United Kingdom defines a maisonette house as a large building with its own entrance and staircase. What’s more, maisonettes often occupy more than one floor in the UK, usually with a ground floor for the entrance and a first floor for the main living space.

On the other hand, the Scottish sees maisonette as a group of duplex flats accessed through a communal entrance. Also, they are placed on top of one another as a part of a building block. In the United States, a maisonette is a building on top of a high-rise building, commonly referred to as a penthouse.

As if this is not enough, the word ‘maisonette’ is a French word that defines a tiny house. Therefore, the term maisonettes can describe holiday cottages in some parts of Europe. Isn’t this mind-boggling?

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How Many Floors Are There?

Well, a maisonette house comes with two floors. The best thing about a maisonette is that it has two separate entrances and staircases, meaning it can host two different people or families. As said above, Americans refer to this property as a duplex simply because it has two floors.

 

Are Maisonettes Freehold or Leasehold?

If you are interested in purchasing a maisonette, this is one of the main questions you need to ask seller. As it’s the norm with other properties in the market, a maisonette can either be leasehold or freehold.

If you decide to opt for a leasehold maisonette, you will have to pay ground rent to the freehold owner. In simple terms, it means you’ll pay rent for the ground that the property lays on. Also, it means you don’t own the land that your maisonette rest on.

After the ‘Ground Rent Scandal’ hit the airwaves back in 2017, most homeowners are no longer interested in ground rents. During this scandal, the ground rent significantly increased, making it relatively hard for those residing in their properties incapable of paying it. The exceptionally high ground rent made the process of selling the houses an uphill task.

A notable thing you have to keep in mind is that you may have to pay a service charge for your maisonette. In general, it’s a fee paid by all tenants within the building, and the management uses it for communal areas maintenance. But a maisonette has limited communal space, probably the shared driveaway or a shared garden. Thus, the service charge is significantly low compared to what you could pay for a flat.

Now, it is advisable to consider other crucial aspects when it comes to acquiring a freehold maisonette. For instance, determine whether the freehold applies to the entire property or just ‘your’ maisonette. If the freehold applies for the property as a whole, you might need to evaluate it further because you will have to cater to the communal spaces’ maintenances. Well, this is an aspect you might not have factored in your initial budget.

 

Maisonette vs Flat

In the United Kingdom, you will be more than happy to realise there is plenty of options when it comes to choosing your desired house. However, the wide variety of available properties may make it somewhat tricky for you to choose your most preferred. When comparing a flat and maisonette, most people don’t really recognise the differences between the two. To make it clear, you will find the fundamental differences between the two in this section.

What is a Flat?

Flats are typically the cheapest forms of housing in the United Kingdom, and they are seen as the favourite in the property category. Most singles and small families in the country prefer living in them due to their affordability. As their name suggests, a flat is a single-level residential building that has several rooms all positioned on one floor.

Types of Flats

Things may get quite complex after learning there are several types of flats. Listed below are the most common:

Purpose-built Flats

A purpose-built flat is a building that was designed with the purpose of being a flat from the word go. For instance, a block of flats is purpose-built while an old building that has been split into several units is not.

Studio Flats

Well, here is where it gets tricky. Often, people erroneously label one-bedroom flats as studios, although the correct meaning of a studio is different. An ideal studio flat is a single room that hosts everything except a bathroom.

So, a studio flat consists of a single, large room that’s sectioned into various areas by partial walls or furniture. The living area, sleeping section and kitchen are all contained in the same room. On the contrary, a one bed flat, at the very least, will incorporate a separate bedroom.

Converted Flats

A converted flat is typically the opposite of the purpose-built flat described above. From that definition, we can say that flats crafted from a house are known as converted flats.

Main Differences Between a Maisonette and Flat

First, a flat is typically a single storey building while a maisonette is usually across two storeys. Additionally, when it comes to a unit of flats, most of the flats contain a similar internal layout, while a maisonette is customised to meet the owner’s taste.

Second, a maisonette has more privacy than a flat. The main reason for this is that, in flats, occupants share an entrance with other flat occupants in the same building. Well, that is not the case in a maisonette because you will have a personal private space and entry. What’s more, the fact that you will not share a corridor with your neighbours and you have a personal entrance in a maisonette means it’s more secure than a flat.

All in all, you will have to pay ground rent in both flats and maisonettes if you opt for the leasehold option. Also, you’ll pay a service charge in the two properties, but the service charge in a maisonette is lower than that of a flat, thanks to its limited communal space.

 

Should You Buy A Maisonette?

When it comes to determining whether to buy a real estate product, there is no definite yes or no answer, and a maisonette is not an exception. As a result, it would be beneficial to outline the pros and cons of buying a maisonette to make it easy for you to make a profound decision.

Pros of Buying a Maisonette

A maisonette is a typical tiny house when you consider what it offers you. Basically, you will have direct access, two floors of living space and enough privacy. After factoring out some enjoyable benefits you will get from a maisonette, you will realise why most people prefer them over ordinary flats. Here are the benefits:

Personal Privacy

Maisonette assures you great privacy. First, you will control the entire house, in addition to using the terrace and other facilities alone. Although acquiring a new maisonette is not a walk in the park, the fees you pay are worth everything considering the experience the building offers you.

A Private Entrance

You will have a completely private entrance. Merely put, you enjoy privacy when entering and leaving the building. Also, you will do away with the commotion that neighbours make while entering and exiting a flat, mainly at unsociable hours. Moreover, add these benefits to others, such as private access, safe deliveries, ease of post access, and the ability to include your custom security systems. As you can see, this is a huge plus.

Low Buying Costs

The fact that maisonettes are not popular in today’s property market and are not easily seen means their price is more affordable than other properties. However, you have to keep in mind that most maisonettes might be located above businesses.

Else, they may be a part of a large property. Whatever the case, they give you a unique way of acquiring an affordable property without compromising the space. As a business owner, this turns out to be an extra benefit.

Two Floors

Most flats on the property market are typically one floor only. Therefore, if you are one of those who prefer having their space, a flat may not be your ideal option. With two floors in a maisonette at your disposal, it means you will have an additional room for storage or perform other activities you would like. Above all, you will have a sufficiently large living room that you can enjoy as much as possible.

Low Maintenance Costs

Besides being cheaply affordable, the little space combined with the standard structural design means maintaining the building will not cost you a lot of bucks. In the end, you will save hundreds if not thousands yearly when it comes to maintenance costs.

The Loft space

Lastly, the other incredible benefit of a maisonette is that the present two floors allow you to get a fantastic loft space. What this means is that you can get extra space by converting the loft space. Moreover, you will have additional storage space that you cannot easily find in other buildings. Remember that living in a maisonette is comfortable and achievable for the short-term and long-term if you consider the two available floors and the additional extra storage.

Ideal for a Medium Family

If you have a big family, a maisonette is a perfect option for you as you can comfortably stay together and still enjoy your personal space. Yes, it contains several bedrooms, meaning you don’t have to modify anything. In the end, it guarantees much-needed happiness.

What are the Limitations?

All the things in the world come with limitations too, and a maisonette is not an exception. As much as these properties are popular, affordable, and some of the most underestimated buildings you need to have, they have their limitations. Here are the cons of having a maisonette.

Issues with the Business or Neighbours Below

When acquiring a maisonette, keep in mind that you will are taking a gamble on the neighbour circumstance. As a result, you need to do a couple of things to prepare yourself for this neighbour situation.

But it may be pretty tricky to determine the circumstances you are getting yourself into, mainly when going above a business. However, you can solve these issues by considering the business’s nature and the items sold. The reason for doing this is to avoid plunging yourself into frequent and unpleasant smells and sounds.

Little Space

You need to remember that a maisonette may not be your eternal house if you plan to have a growing family. A maisonette has limited space with little room for expansion. Therefore, if your family keeps increasing at an alarming rate, it will be reasonably challenging to host everyone comfortably.

Also, staying in a maisonette may put you at risk of having unbearable neighbours. An unpleasant smell and noise levels are some of the aspects you need to think of when looking out for a maisonette.

Property Refurbishments Limits

While maisonettes are comparable to houses due to the fact that you have incredible privacy, you have a personal access point, and you have your own garden area, they still come with some limitations.

One of the unwanted cons is that maisonette owners do not enjoy development rights. Well, it means you will have to request authorisations to undertake various works, such as extensions. In most cases, property owners have complained of receiving negative feedback from the local governments when they inquire about renovating their maisonettes.

Parking Accessibility

If you live in a busy area and the door leads straight to the street, you may have a hard time finding parking. Whether you prefer parking your car in a car park or on-street parking, you will struggle to locate a perfect place to leave it, particularly for an extended period. So, it would be helpful to consider parking needs as well as your transport demands.

 

Top Tips to Consider 

Before committing your funds to a maisonette, it is recommended to consider the following tips:

The Space

A large maisonette will give you plenty of space and seem posh with the right interior design. However, if you don’t plan to have many kids, then some of the bedrooms in the house will undoubtedly go to waste. In such a situation, it would be better to acquire a maisonette that suits your existing requirements.

Consider the Loan Amount

When it comes to figuring out how you will finance your maisonette, knowing what you can borrow is vital. Ideally, your income and financial standing come in handy in determining the amount that you can borrow. You should always contact a reputable real estate agent to be carefully taken through the whole acquisition process.

The Final Take

Your future plans and budgets determine whether you should rent or buy a maisonette. The price of renting or purchasing a maisonette in the United Kingdom varies significantly based on the location and condition. For instance, the maisonettes located in the cities sell at a higher price than those in the rural areas.

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