If you’re looking at buying a maisonette but not sure on the finer details; this guide is for you.
Below, we’ll explain what a maisonette is. Then, we’ll cover important points such as:
- What to look for in the management pack (including details of the leasehold)
- How maisonettes compare to flats and houses
- What to consider before you put an offer in and purchase a maisonette.
The Definition of a Maisonette
A maisonette is a self-contained property, usually covering one or two storeys, with as little as four in a block. Maisonettes have their own entrance, rather than a communal entrance.
This differs from flats, which typically use a communal entrance, and are usually in larger blocks.
Are Maisonettes Leasehold or Freehold?
The majority of maisonettes are leasehold. The minority that are freehold, the previous buyer’s would have joined forces to purchase the freehold from the freeholder.
Can You Get a Mortgage on a Maisonette?
Maisonettes are surprisingly easy to get a mortgage on; no harder than a house. Whether or not you get offered a mortgage will depend on your financial position and current credit score, rather than the fact you are buying a maisonette.
It’s worth speaking to a mortgage broker who can quickly compare all the best offers on the market for maisonette mortgages, rather than going directly to a high street bank.
Maisonettes vs Flats
Maisonettes differ from flats, as maisonettes have their own entrance. Flats generally have a communal area used to access each flat in the block.
Maisonettes vs Houses
A house is an independent property, whereas a maisonette shares a “block” with other properties. The most common example would be what looks like a pair of semi-detached houses, broken down into four units; two ground floor maisonettes and two first floor maisonettes.
What to Consider Before Buying a Maisonette
Now you know what a maisonette is and that it’s right for you, here are a few things you need to consider before and when buying one.
Review the Management Pack
Before buying a maisonette, review the management pack; this is provided by the freeholder.
This will contain important information such as repair cost liability, years remaining on the lease, ground rent charges, and service charges.
The first thing you’ll want to know is who is responsible for the repair costs of your maisonette; this should be explained in the management pack.
Typically, the freeholder will cover structural repairs, and they’ll be paid for via the joint service charge billed to your block.
These repairs are likely to cover things such as:
- Communal paving repairs
Internal repair costs such as decorating, glazing, boilers and so on, would be covered by you, the leaseholder.
Check the Lease
Typically, maisonettes will be leasehold. Effectively, this means the freeholder owns the land, and you own the maisonette for the period of the lease (the lease can be extended quite easily, so don’t worry).
Length of Lease
Leasehold maisonettes could be offered with as little as a 1 year lease (which wouldn’t have been extended for many years), and up to 999 years. The longer the lease the better.
One important point to consider is you won’t get a mortgage on a maisonette with a lease below 80 years. And, that’s because of something called Marriage Rights. Essentially, below 80 years, the freeholder becomes connected to the value of the property. The lease renewal costs become high and unpredictable; it’s risky business!
Ideally, you’d want 100 years plus to be safe, and anything close to 80 years, you’ll want a lease extension.
The cost to renew on a maisonette will depend on a few things:
- The freeholder (for instance, whereby the council is the freeholder, renewal costs tend to be a lot lower than private freeholders)
- The length remaining on the lease (the lower the years left, the higher the cost to renew)
- Whether or not there is less than 80 years left on the lease (as mentioned above, Marriage Rights then come into play, and lease extensions can start to get extremely expensive).
A standard lease renewal, adding 100-125 years to a lease (assuming your current lease isn’t below 80 years), costs around £1,000-5,000 for a typical maisonette.
Understand the Service Charge
Review the management pack to determine the service charge. Some service charges (again, usually properties whereby the council is the freeholder) can be as low as £150 per annum, which is completely reasonable.
However, there are plenty of privately held maisonettes where the service charges are £150 per MONTH or more.
Figure out the Ground Rent
Review the management pack to confirm the cost of the ground rent. What you want is a Peppercorn Rent, which is usually £5 or less per annum.
However, as with service charges, there are plenty of maisonettes for sale with ground rent charges of £500 or more per annum; a nasty shock when the first bill arrives through the post!
Check who owns the Garden
Check the deeds, management pack and Land Registry to determine who owns what parts of the garden/s.
In some cases, one maisonette will own both front and rear gardens, or, they’ll one will own the front, another the back. On other occasions, the front and rear gardens are jointly owned by both maisonettes. So, it’s worth checking before you make an offer.
So, now you know what a maisonette is and what to consider when buying one. If you think buying a maisonette is for you, it’s time to investigate the monthly repayment costs for a mortgage.
For that, we suggest speaking to an online mortgage advisor. They’ll be able to quickly compare the market to arrange the best mortgage deal for you. And, they’re typically cheaper than a higher street bank!