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Exploring Maisonettes: A Comprehensive Guide

Jul 04, 2024

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When you’re house hunting, you might encounter the term "maisonette." This guide aims to explore what a maisonette is and whether it could be the right choice for your next home.

What exactly is a Maisonette?

The term "maisonette" has varied meanings globally. Originating from French, it translates to "little house." In the UK, a maisonette refers to a self-contained two-floor apartment within a larger building. Unlike flats, maisonettes have their own staircase and entrance. They're often found in converted period homes or above shops in town centres.

In Scotland, a maisonette is part of a duplex flat complex, accessed through a communal entrance. In the US, they’re often called duplexes, typically occupying the top floor of high-rise buildings, akin to penthouses.

How Do Maisonettes Differ from Flats?

Flats are usually stacked vertically in blocks with shared entrances and communal spaces. In contrast, maisonettes offer direct access to the outdoors from your front door. They span two levels, resembling a house layout more than a flat. Maisonettes may also include private outdoor spaces like gardens, distinct from the communal areas typical of flats.

Maisonettes vs. Houses: What Sets Them Apart?

While maisonettes share some similarities with houses—such as private gardens and direct outdoor access—they are generally smaller in size. Maisonettes typically offer up to two bedrooms, whereas houses can accommodate larger families with four or five bedrooms and often feature attic spaces not found in maisonettes.

One significant advantage of maisonettes is their affordability compared to houses, making them an attractive option for first-time buyers.

Leasehold or Freehold?

Maisonettes can be leasehold or freehold properties. Leasehold maisonettes involve paying ground rent to the freeholder, with potential service charges for shared outdoor spaces. Acquiring the freehold grants ownership of the entire building, allowing the collection of ground rent from other occupants, usually in converted period buildings.

Understanding these distinctions is crucial when considering maintenance responsibilities and potential costs associated with owning a maisonette.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Maisonette


  • Affordability: Maisonettes are often more affordable than houses, offering better value for money.
  • Unique Living Spaces: Unlike flats in uniform blocks, maisonettes can be unique and offer bespoke layouts and features.
  • Additional Storage: Maisonettes may come with useful storage spaces like garages, which are less common in apartments.


  • Limited Expansion: Maisonettes may require planning permission for significant alterations, unlike houses with permitted development rights.
  • Space Limitations: They offer less space compared to traditional houses, which may be restrictive for growing families.
  • Shared Responsibilities: Owners of maisonettes may need to collaborate with neighbours for exterior maintenance and repairs.

Is a Maisonette Right for You?

Choosing a maisonette depends on your space needs and preferences regarding leasehold versus freehold ownership. For first-time buyers or those seeking affordability and manageable space, a maisonette could be ideal. However, larger families or those planning extensive home expansions may find traditional houses more suitable.

At Howards, we’re dedicated to helping you find your perfect home. Contact us today and let us assist you on your journey to finding the right property. Explore our range of guides and resources, from buyer advice to house viewing checklists, designed to support you every step of the way.