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What Even Is A Maisonette Anyway? Find Out If They Are For You Below:

In the UK, a maisonette house is a self contained flat or apartment within a larger residential property — often including its own staircase and multiple floors.

Whereas, your bog standard flat is normally one of multiple flats within a residential building with a communal staircase and social areas (like a garden).

In this article we will be covering what exactly a maisonette house is, how living in a maisonette house compares to other residential property types, where you can find maisonette houses, if they are leasehold or freehold, how expensive they are and the pros and cons of living in a maisonette.

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What Is A Maisonette House?

It's tricky to define a maisonette house, as it can mean various things depending on where you are.

In the UK, a maisonette house is a self-contained flat within a larger building with its own staircase and entrance.

Maisonettes cover more than one floor and are often referred to as duplexes – an Americanism meaning a split-level flat. You can usually find maisonettes in large period houses that have been converted (typically a first-floor maisonette) or in a city centre above the shops.

Live in Scotland, however, and a maisonette house is one of a group of duplex flats, positioned on top of each other as part of a housing block, accessed via a communal entrance. In the United States, living in a maisonette house means you occupy the top floor of a high-rise building, also known as a penthouse.

And if that's not confusing enough, the word 'maisonette' originates from French and translates as 'little house'. So in Europe, even holiday cottages can be classed as a maisonette.

How Does Living In A Maisonette Compare To Houses, Flats & Apartments?

Maisonette houses are classed differently from apartments, flats, and homes. There are pros and cons of buying a maisonette house; see our comparison tables below for more information:

Maisonette VS Flat

Even though maisonettes and flats are often confused, they have some key differences:

Maisonettes are often unique and span multiple floors.A typical flat/apartment consists of several rooms spanning a single floor.
Maisonette houses are often bespoke and aren't typically sold as a development block. They tend to vary in square footage, layout and spec.Flats are often created as a development block, and the apartments are repeated across the development. Flats will only vary slightly depending on the number of bedrooms.
Maisonettes have their entrance and don't share communal spaces. Some may share garden space but not all.Flats will all share the same main entrance, communal spaces, gardens and balconies.
Maisonettes, however, can come with tenure complications that aren't found in flats.Due to the nature of flats and development blocks, the purchasing procedure is pretty straightforward.

Maisonette VS House

Is a maisonette a house? Not necessarily, although they can come with similar square footage to a home and many of the same perks in many cases:

Maisonettes with more than one floor offer slightly more security than a house because all the windows are on an upper level, and the only point of access is the front door — which is far less appealing to burglars.Most houses will have windows on the ground floor, back doors and plenty of access points which are attractive to possible burglars.
Maisonettes can often mimic the house appeal from the outside; they have a garden and sometimes a garage, which makes them ideal for families.Houses come in all shapes and sizes, and you can find one that suits your needs, which is something that some maisonettes may not meet
If there are multiple maisonettes and one garden, the residents may share the communal spaces — you should check the property's tenure and layout before buying.Most, if not all, houses have their own gardens. They may share a back street for parking, but all garden space belongs to the home.
Maisonettes, however, can come with tenure complications that aren't found in flats.Due to the nature of flats and development blocks, the purchasing procedure is pretty straightforward.

Maisonette VS Apartment

Shop around, and some maisonettes could be on par with an apartment. Apartments are flats built with luxury that, just like maisonettes, can span two floors:

Maisonette houses are bespoke and have a unique layout but are often found in renovated mills or mansions and are not conveniently located.Apartments have the bespoke news that maisonettes have and the convenient location with the compact lifestyle of flats.
Executive maisonettes can also be located in high-demand areas and fitted out to apartment spec.Apartments are typically located close to city centres where the land is in demand.
Second-hand executive maisonettes are the far cheaper option to buy but also more affordable to run and maintain.Second-hand apartments may increase in price due to the nature of the property market.
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Where Can I Find A Maisonette House?

As mentioned, you can find conventional maisonettes as part of subdivided properties or shops in a town centre. But what about geographically?

In the UK, maisonette houses are not uncommon, but if you're a very particular buyer, it may take you a while to find one that suits you and is located in the right area. So to help you out, here are a few tips for scouting them out:

1. Due to maisonette houses being, in effect, a slightly smaller and more affordable house, you'll often find them in or close to cities, particularly those where the cost of living and house prices are pretty high. London, for instance.

2. Maisonette houses are also common in areas with a heavy student population. Why? Because they allow student landlords to convert one house into two separate dwellings and, as a result, take on more tenants. Do this right, and they could increase their rental yield dramatically.

Are Maisonettes Leasehold Or Freehold?

If you're looking to buy a maisonette house, this should be the number one question you ask your agent. The answer should be one of two things. One is yes, it has a lease, in which case it's leasehold. The other is that it comes with a freehold, in which case we urge you to be more curious.

It would help if you ascertained the specifics of the freehold. See, this could either be the freehold of all the properties in the building or the maisonette's freehold. A factor that, as you'll discover later on, can affect your ability to get a mortgage.

With a leasehold maisonette, you will be responsible for paying ground rent to the freeholder, usually somewhere in the region of £10 to £100 per year.

There should be no service charge as maisonette houses have no communal areas, with the only exception being for the upkeep of shared outdoor space, for instance, the garden or driveway.

It's also worth understanding the responsibilities of a maisonette house, as they differ from the conventional flat or house. For those living in a maisonette house, the costs would usually be divided as follows:

A first-floor maisonette house is responsible for the roof and guttering.

The ground floor flat is responsible for the foundations.

Both properties are responsible for the upkeep of communal areas and general upkeep. For instance, resurfacing a shared driveway or exterior painting.

If a first-floor maisonette house is going cheap, it could signal something drastically wrong with the roof. When buying a maisonette we'd advise you to pay for a survey before making any final decisions.

Is It Reasonable To Buy A Maisonette?

There are plenty of benefits to living in a maisonette house:

Warm And Cosy

Being upstairs is a significant advantage of living in a maisonette house, especially in the winter. Not only is it cosy thanks to the heat from the flat downstairs, but also because of the amount of insulation you can fit in your loft. Double glazing and living in a maisonette house can be a brilliant option.

Bonus Storage Space

While insulation may bulk out your loft space, it's also a functional storage space you don't get with most apartments and flats. Combine this with exterior storage such as a garage, and you can store most things just as you would in a typical house—yet another advantage of living in a maisonette house.

Incredible Square Footage

Another perk to living in a maisonette house is square footage. In some instances, maisonettes (most likely executive maisonettes) can have as much, if not more square footage, as a two-bed bungalow! Not bad, considering they're far cheaper to buy.

Excellent Value

Because not everyone's a fan of living in a maisonette house, prices are typically lower. Compared to a luxury apartment of the same size, you can usually find a maisonette for 20 to 25% less.

Possible Issues With Living In A Maisonette

However, there are some disadvantages to living in a maisonette house:

Problematic Parking

Maisonettes with either no off-road parking or a shared driveway can be challenging. Parking your car on the street in a heavily residential area can be a nightmare, not ideal for the safety of your car or the price of your insurance.

Areas with high amounts of maisonettes are often the most challenging places to park because maisonettes increase the number of residents per street. Those with a prominent or beloved high-end car may wish to look elsewhere.

Equivocal Extensions

Maisonettes have no permitted development rights, so you may find it harder to receive planning permission for large-scale home improvements and a high risk of rejection. When you first buy your maisonette, it may be the perfect size for you and your partner (or yourself), but if you wish to grow a family, the available space may dwindle.

To future-proof your property, you may look to add an extension — but as large-scale extensions are tricky, you may have to settle on a couple of more minor square footage extensions in the form of single-storey extensions/conservatories, which are more likely to be approved.

Most maisonettes are also on a leasehold, meaning you will need to get consent from the freeholder to apply for planning permission.


Living in a maisonette house can be troublesome if you struggle to negotiate stairs. If this is the case, a ground floor flat may be a better option. If you choose a first- or second-floor maisonette house and wish to add in any accessibility items, you may need permission from the freeholder.

Maisonette Mortgages

When looking to buy maisonettes, getting mortgages can be pretty tricky, especially if a maisonette house has its own freehold.

Whether it shares a building with a ground floor flat or a block with other maisonettes, this generally makes it unmortgageable in the eyes of lenders. This is why unless you're a cash buyer, we suggest you hunt for a leasehold maisonette.

Noisy Neighbours

Living in a maisonette house means you have to be extra neighbourly. When living above someone, it's essential to be respectful and keep an eye on the amount of noise you make.

For instance, we wouldn't advise living in a maisonette house with a young child or if you like to party until 3 am.

When you go to view a maisonette, try and speak with the neighbours. Maybe get the agent to walk around upstairs so you can gauge how well insulated the floors and walls are.

Should I Buy A Maisonette?

There's no hiding that selling a maisonette house can have its complications. As many buyers dismiss them together and a select few can be unmortgageable, stimulating interest can be challenging. But that's not to say maisonettes are a terrible investment, far from it.

If you're after somewhere safe and secure, which is cheap to run and comes with the space and amenities of a house, then living in a maisonette could be a good option for you as long as you do your homework.

Considering making a move to a maisonette? Or selling an existing maisonette house to release the equity? We may be able to help.

As one of the most established UK house buyers, we'll buy your house, be it terraced, detached or a maisonette, and ensure you have the cash in the bank within as little as seven days!

We have our cash reserves, meaning we can purchase your house from you as soon as you want to sell, and there are no property chains. Wherever you are in the UK, we will buy your property on a schedule that works for you. And, as a bit of thank you, we will even pay your legal fees on your behalf.

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Tom Condon

Tom Condon, one of our content writers, has fascinating expertise in sustainability in the property industry. Tom thoroughly understands the market and has experience in both residential and commercial property. He enjoys attending conferences and staying current with the most recent property trends.