What Are Maisonettes? [History, Meaning + Pros & Cons]

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If you’re on the hunt for property, you may have come across the term ‘maisonette’ and wondered what it meant. Our guide addresses what a maisonette is, the pros and cons of living in one, and the main differences between a maisonette and other types of housing.

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What Is a Maisonette?

A maisonette can denote various dwellings, depending on where you are in Europe. A maisonette in the UK is a two-storey, self-contained flat in a larger building. Maisonettes are typically older converted houses or period houses designed to have their own front door and staircase. Since a maisonette has more than one floor, it’s also referred to as a duplex—an American term used to describe a two-storey apartment.

The literal maisonette meaning is ‘little house’—a name that suits its features. A maisonette includes a street entrance with private access, two or more floors, a small garden, a larger living space, and increased levels of privacy.

DID YOU KNOW? ‘Maisonette’ originates from French as a diminutive form of ‘maison’ (‘house’). Maisonette means ‘little house’.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Maisonette

Much like other properties, a maisonette has its advantages and disadvantages. So what’s a maisonette regarding the pros and cons of living in one?

Advantages

  • Cheaper than a house: Maisonette prices are typically lower than those of detached or semi-detached houses, making them more affordable and an ideal choice for first-time buyers.
  • More square footage: Maisonettes are typically larger and have more square footage than flats—a good value for your money.
  • More privacy: A maisonette has more privacy than a flat because it has its own entrance, and you don’t need to share the corridor with other tenants.
  • More storage space: The definition of a maisonette emphasises that they have significantly more storage space, with access to an attic space or exterior storage, such as a garage.

Disadvantages

  • Problematic parking: Maisonette owners must share a driveway and typically have no access to off-street parking, making everyday life significantly more complicated.
  • Noise levels: Living in a maisonette means that you’ll be near your neighbours. So you’ll need to deal with noise, which could be quite trying.
  • Shared responsibility: What is a maisonette in the UK regarding work that needs to be done on the house’s exterior? Such work on the home or communal outdoor space must be done in collaboration with those occupying the other half of the maisonette.
  • Mortgage difficulties: Most mortgage lenders are willing to give a smaller loan for a maisonette than they would for a standard-size house. So you may have difficulties getting approved for a mortgage sufficient to buy a maisonette.
DID YOU KNOW? Numbers from February 2022 show that the average price for flats and maisonettes in the UK is £228,003—significantly lower than prices for other property types.

Leasehold vs Freehold Maisonettes

To fully understand the maisonette house meaning, you need to know the difference between a leasehold and a freehold maisonette. Before moving into a maisonette, you should inquire about these differences because you may be responsible for paying additional charges later on.

Leasehold Maisonette

Leasehold maisonettes are more common in the UK than freehold maisonettes. If you choose a leasehold maisonette, ask how long the lease is valid since you’ll need to pay ground rent, which can be £10 to £100 per year. On the upside, maisonette residents shouldn’t be responsible for service charges since there are no communal areas that require upkeep. The maintenance of the common area outdoors can be done by mutual agreement.

Freehold Maisonette

The freehold maisonette definition asserts that buyers can acquire the freehold of the entire building and have other residents pay them ground rent or obtain only the freehold for the individual maisonette. With the latter, owners won’t be responsible for paying ground rent but only for the upkeep of the property.

A shared freehold requires the owners to manage the property together. In most cases, the ground floor freeholder is responsible for the foundation, while the first-floor freeholder is responsible for the roof and gutters.

DID YOU KNOW? A leaseholder can purchase the property’s freehold and become a freeholder if they meet specific criteria. For example, they need to own the lease for the entire property (not part of it) for at least two years and at least 21 years left to run on the lease.

Key Takeaways

Maisonettes are self-contained flats in a larger converted building.
While a maisonette is smaller and cheaper than a house, it’s bigger than a flat and provides better value.
You have private access to the property with maisonettes and additional outdoor and storage space.
Maisonettes are leasehold or freehold properties—leasehold maisonettes are more common.

Differences Between a House and Maisonette

There’s often much confusion regarding similarities and differences between maisonette vs house properties. The main difference between a house and a maisonette is the size.

Maisonettes are smaller (and cheaper) than a typical house. With a maisonette, you gain access to one level of the property with no more than two bedrooms, while in a house, you can have up to five bedrooms.

There are, however, some similarities. Both houses and maisonettes (and cottages) have private gardens and garages. But most importantly, they have separate front doors—so you don’t need to share a space with your neighbours.

What is a maisonette and how is it different from a typical house are good questions to ask before considering either. You should also know that the privacy provided by a maisonette is almost identical to that of other house types.

DID YOU KNOW? The most desirable property in the UK is a detached Georgian house, with 23% of people saying they would like to live in this type of property. Modern homes (built post-1990s and eco-builds from the 2000s) follow the detached Georgian house as the most popular property type.

What Is the Difference Between a Flat and a Maisonette?

A flat and maisonette share some features but are also different in many respects. What distinguishes a flat from a maisonette is that flats are built in blocks (one atop another). A block of flats also has one shared entrance and a communal space between the flats. The same applies to apartments, but there are some differences between a flat and an apartment. Additionally, a maisonette stretches over two floors, while flats are on a single floor and don’t include outdoor space.

The question of ‘what’s the difference between a flat and a maisonette’ should conversely include similarities. They are similar in size and generally cost the same—although you can get a slightly bigger maisonette for the same amount of money as a flat.

DID YOU KNOW? The real estate sector is one of the largest industries in the UK, employing 551,000 and generating a £68.6 billion turnover in 2021.

Is Buying a Maisonette a Smart Choice?

What is a maisonette house in regards to your preferred lifestyle? It’s essential to understand what it’s like living in a maisonette. A maisonette is an excellent choice for first-time buyers because it’s affordable, safe, and secure. It also provides enough space for a couple or small family. If you’re saving for a house and looking for a small yet comfortable home, this definition of a maisonette fits the description. But if you have a growing family, you might want to consider something more spacious.

DID YOU KNOW? London is the most expensive city to buy a property. The average price of a home is £476,800more than double the national UK average of £218,800.

Conclusion

Maisonettes are rising in popularity, becoming the go-to choice for many new buyers in the UK. We hope our guide has given you a better understanding of the maisonette meaning to help you decide if this type of property is the right choice for you.

FAQ

What is difference between flat and maisonette?

The main difference between a flat and a maisonette is that flats are built in blocks that share an entrance and are one-floor structures, while the opposite applies to maisonettes.

Do maisonettes have stairs?

If maisonettes are on the ground floor, they don’t have stairs. But if they’re on the first floor of a structure, they have stairs that belong exclusively to the maisonette.

What’s the difference between a maisonette and a townhouse?

Townhouses are similar to maisonettes in many ways, but they’re not part of larger structures. They are individual buildings, typically connected to another property, like terraced or semi-detached houses.

What do maisonettes look like?

What is a maisonette as to its appearance? These properties are part of a larger building, but each has a separate entrance and typically an outdoor space—like a flat, only with a single, private front door and a garden.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Alex is an IT wizz gone SEO gone fire-juggler. We’re not even joking. When he isn’t researching why one personal loan is better than the other and which piece of hardware you should buy next, he’s rollerblading or selling homes (because he does that, too, the smarty-pants).

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