What is a Maisonette? Should I buy one?

Dream house is a maisonette

You will come across various types of homes when looking to buy or rent one. It can be pretty confusing when trying to decide what space best fits your lifestyle. The popular spaces include maisonette, apartments, flats and penthouses, among others. This article delves into maisonettes to help you understand what they are and if they are a good space for you to live.

Beware that the same word may have different meanings depending on your location around the world. This definition and details provided will align with the European definition of the maisonette. However, we will check a few differences with other definitions around the world. This article answers the question, what is a maisonette?


Definition of a Maisonette

According to the UK definition, a maisonette is a self-contained flat that is usually within another building. This building has its own stairs and an entrance. Therefore, other users of the larger building do not share the same stairs with the occupant of a maisonette. The reason for including a staircase in the definition is that maisonettes cover more than one floor. We are going to use this definition in this article.


In Scotland, a maisonette is a group of several duplex houses that occupants access through a communal entrance. These houses are placed on top of each other in a building block. The USA definition of a maisonette is a duplex since the building is a split-level flat. In most cases, landlords transform large houses into several residences to increase their returns. In this part of the world, you will find maisonette on top of shops and other businesses around towns.


In France, a maisonette is usually a tiny home. These homes are usually used as holiday cottages. This is a different definition compared to other parts of the world.


How a Maisonette Differs from Other Types of Homes

Here is a quick look at different types of homes and how each is different from a maisonette.

 Maisonette vs. a House

A maisonette can pass as a house, but this is not so in many cases. However, you can have a maisonette with the same living area and fixtures as a house. If the maisonette is on the upper floors of the building, it has pretty the same privacy as a house. It may sometimes be safer than a house because the front door may not open to the street, and the windows are on the upper floors. These features make it a less appealing target for thieves.

However, there are differences. First, most maisonettes lack a garden, especially because maisonettes are found on the upper floors. Where there is a garden, it is usually shared by all the occupants of the building. Therefore, you do not get the privacy that you can get from a private house. Second, you cannot access the shared garden from a backdoor in your property. You have to get out of your home and use a side gate to the space.

Apartment vs. Maisonette

Apartments are spaces built for luxurious living. They are similar to maisonettes in that they span more than one floor. Their main strength is the design. Most of them will feature bespoke layout, high-end fixtures and be located in convenient areas, usually near city centres where the price of land is very high. However, they still offer the compact lifestyle that comes with a flat.

In essence, apartments are made for the wealthy and affluent. You can have maisonettes that meet the same design and luxury spec, often referred to as executive maisonettes. However, a bulk of other maisonettes are often cheaper and do not come with the luxurious features of most apartments. However, you can add some of the features if you buy one. However, maisonettes are also easier and cheaper to maintain, unlike apartments.

Apartment Vs. Flats

Flats are the most popular type of housing in the UK. They are also the cheapest among these discussed in this section. A flat is typically a one-level living space with various rooms. Each floor of a flat may have different families. They have a shared entrance, staircase and other facilities. They offer a compact lifestyle where occupants get a decent place to stay without spending too much.

There are several types of flats. Most new homes are purpose-built for flats. However, many buildings are also being redesigned into flats. This is because a flat has higher returns to the building owners than leasing or selling the entire building to one user. Therefore, when looking for the cheapest place to live, a flat is the best place to start.

However, flats have little or no privacy. Your neighbours will overhear everything that goes on in your life. Sometimes you will be disturbed by noises in the neighbourhood. There is also little or no garden for you to relax with your family.

 Studios vs. Maisonettes

Most people mistake a one-bedroom flat with a studio. However, a studio is a single room that houses everything except the bathroom. There may be partial partitions in the house, but it is not an entire room. Studios are common with students and singles that are getting started in life. This is because it is quite cheap and the occupant is just looking for the basics. A studio has nothing remotely similar to the maisonette.


How Many Floors Does a Maisonette have?

A maisonette usually has two floors. It can have a separate entrance for each of the two floors. However, since a single family lives here, they can plan the space as well as they like.


Buying a Maisonette

When it is time to buy a home, it is good to look at the positives and cons of the same. When it comes to a maisonette, get to know what benefits and cons are on the way and compare them to any other type of house. Here is a look at both sides of the coin.


Advantages of Going for a Maisonette

A maisonette is a smaller version of a house that offers you everything you may ever want in a home. You have direct access to your home from your private entrance, there are two floors of living space and you have enough privacy from your neighbours. If you look at all these features, these are the benefits that you may get from picking one.


One of the greatest considerations when buying a living unit is privacy. You do not want your neighbours to be part of your everyday private life. With a maisonette, you get privacy as you control the entire house. You can use all facilities, including the terrace, all alone. If you have the budget, a maisonette offers you all that you need to live a personal life away from the rest of the world.

Your Private Entrance

The entrance to your home is yours alone. Therefore, you get the privacy of entering and leaving your home without everyone around you knowing it. You also get away from the commotion that comes with everyone getting home at the same time in the evening.

Having a private entrance has other advantages too. They include ease of access by post and online deliveries, the ability to customize your security systems, and private access by your family members, among other benefits.

Lower Buying Costs than Many Homes with these Features

Most markets are not in love with maisonettes. Therefore, their popularity has waned. The few that are remaining are now a lot cheaper than apartments and other executive home plans. Second, the fact that a good number of maisonettes are located on top of businesses puts many people off with the effect of having a lower price. In essence, you get a cheaper home without compromising on the space.

Two Floors of Living Space

Most flats have one floor of living space. Others share the floor, among several occupants. However, a maisonette has a whopping two floors of living space at your disposal. This is enough space for most of the families. Besides, most of the rooms are large enough for you to do various activities at peace. Therefore, if you plan to expand your family or have an extra room for music, exercise, video, or music production, a maisonette is your best choice.

The Loft Space

Partitions may reduce your living space, making it hard for some rooms to accommodate all the furniture and fixtures that you wanted to fit in them. However, a maisonette has an extra loft space that you can use to create a studio room, extra bedroom, or even store items that you do not use regularly. This kind of space is unavailable in other types of homes. The two floors and extra loft space make maisonette an excellent investment for a young, expanding family.

Good for Large Families

Most large families are constantly struggling with space, especially when looking to have some privacy for their family members. It has lots of space for each of them to live comfortably and enjoy some peace at all times.

Limitations of Owning a Maisonette

Even with all the above benefits, you still get a few limitations when living in a maisonette. Here are some of these limitations.

Issues with Your Neighbours

As stated above, most maisonettes are built on top of businesses and other establishments. Therefore, even if you do not meet your neighbours when coming in and out of the house, you need to be prepared for the problems that neighbours may bring forth.

One of the biggest neighbour problems is smells and sound. Here is an example. If you live above a restaurant, the smell of food will be an everyday nuisance. While food smells may not be a big issue with some people, those living above a garage or a paint shop may have serious issues with smells. In the same breath, living above a nightclub may also disturb your peace.

 No Space for Expansion

Unlike a house that sits on your land, a maisonette does not have any space for expansion. Therefore, if you wish to have an extra room for a new family member or to start your online side hustle, you may need to curve it out from the existing rooms. Therefore, when purchasing one, be sure to check if the space would be enough for your plans.

Limitations in Refurbishing your Home

You are not at liberty to make refurbishments and any works that require extensive redesigning. This is because you share the location with others who may be aggrieved by sounds, dust and smells. Besides, the local government may want to be sure that the renovations do not weaken the general structure of the entire building. Therefore, most applications get denied or severely limited in the types of renovation works you can undertake.

Problems Finding Parking

Unlike private homes where there is parking space or even a garage, maisonettes do not have any of these. In large towns, finding a parking space for your vehicle after work may be a serious problem. The issue becomes bigger if your family has more than one car, as you will be forced to park them at different locations across the street. This is not good, especially if you live in an area known for vehicle vandalism.


Factors to Consider When Selecting a Maisonette

After learning about the maisonettes above and considering buying one, there are a few things that you should keep in mind so that you pick a living space that meets your needs and budget. Here are a few of these factors.

Is the Land on which it Seats on Leasehold or Freehold?

The land that the property sits on maybe on leasehold or freehold. Currently, most of the maisonettes stay on land that is on leasehold. Here is the difference. When you go for a property on freehold land, you do not pay the landowner for living on their space. However, you will pay for the maintenance of communal spaces. Such properties are significantly expensive than those that sit on leasehold land. However, being a one-time payment, you are sure that the amount is lower in the long term.

On the other hand, a leasehold maisonette means that you will have to pay the ground rent to the landowner. Therefore, even if you buy the property, you will be making regular payments to the owner. It is essential to know how much it is and the formula for increasing rent payments.

In 2017, there was a much-publicised Ground Rent Scandal where most homeowners significantly increased their ground rents that properties became too expensive for people who had bought them. Fortunately, after the scandal became known, most homeowners are unwilling to be on the wrong side of the law by asking for reasonable payments. Still, you may need to have the information written down clearly not to get a hefty increase in rent.

 Cost of Maintaining Communal Spaces

Even when the title to your maisonette is available in freehold, you need to evaluate the cost of maintaining the communal spaces. These spaces include the garden, parking (if available), fences and outdoor security, along with any other security features. You need to factor in the cost for at least six months in your buying price.

The Living Space

Go for a maisonette that has just enough space to cater to your needs. If you already have a medium to large family or plan to expand to one, go for a space that can fit several rooms for the bedrooms. On the other hand, if you intend to have a small family, go for a smaller space so that you do not pay for space that you do not need. It is also good to view the spaces before purchase and pick the right one for you.


You should consider how much you will be putting in and borrowing for your maisonette. It is good to prequalify before picking a maisonette to be sure of the kind of house you can afford. You may talk to your lender about prequalifying for a mortgage when buying a property. Remember, a good credit score and high initial deposits are some of the things that may help you get a cheaper loan for your home.

Do not forget other factors when buying a home. They include checking the structural integrity of the property, checking if the building has any caveats attached to the title, and find out if the location of the property has any landfills, underground water pipes and other things that may put you at risk.

Final thoughts

A maisonette is a perfect home that lies between owning a flat and a full house. It is an excellent choice for people looking for bigger living spaces without the hefty price that comes with such apartments or houses. Besides, since most maisonettes are found in towns, it is an excellent place to live near your workplace. However, like any other property, it is important to carry due diligence before renting or buying a property. Also, determine how the disadvantages stated above will affect your comfort.


If you are in the process of buying or selling a Maisonette or want to check out the services that MovingSorted.com provide to make moving house simple, find out more here.