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Ever owned a Victorian/Edwardian purpose built maisonette?

(13 Posts)
fourwalls Sat 22-Sep-12 12:44:21

This type of thing:

As these are purpose built in large numbers and Leasehold, does anyone know who generally owns the freeholds?

For example, large mansion blocks in London may be owned by the Duke of Westminster or Grosvenor Properties - I know they also own many regional properties too.

As these maisonettes were all built long before recent leasehold legislation - who generally owns the freeholds? Is it usally a local builder/development company of the era?

Anyone know what the maintenance charges are usually like, ground rent etc.

Usual lease lengths and so on? 999 years or 125 or 99 years.

Question arises because I have seen a lot of them for sale where I am looking and would like a bit of background on what it's like to live in one.

I haven't as yet, seen any that are described as share of freehold and wonder if that's just coincidence or whether they are uniquely leased in some way.

likeatonneofbricks Sat 22-Sep-12 13:07:19

Hi there, yes you can find these being a share of freehold, sometimes you can buy the freehold if the other neighbour agrees to do so as well - the freeholder usually offers but you can ask them. The service charges should be part of the info from the estate agents, if they don't know ask them to find out as it's normal when considering to buy. Centrally they can be extortianate, but in Norwood they maight be 50-80 per month though all depenmds how well maintained it is. If it's badly maintained it can be a real problem, as although they don't charge much nothing ever gets done - you can see the state of the communal parts etc when viewing. By the way, most freeholders don't pay for emergemncy repairs (i.e. roof) so you MUST find out whether there is a sinking fund from all the service charges paid before, and whether any major works have been done recently, if none of these then ask a discount from asking price as you have to put your own funds aside.
Length of lease can be anything, ask the estate agents. Short is considered below 90 but you can extend by negotiating with freeholder.
In the non-central areas (where indeed they are ALL owned by big estates and you can't buy a share of freehold at all for flats), the freehold is usually owned by a small company (investment or developers) occasionally by an individual, and sometimes that individual lives in the other flat of same building!

likeatonneofbricks Sat 22-Sep-12 13:09:36

actually 50 per month would be lucky with a maisonette (I aways owned /viewed similar flats and that's a minimum for a flat, though not in this area). Service charge includes building insurance, so more likely to be towards a 100.

SunAtLast Sat 22-Sep-12 13:14:48

We had one in sw London for 7 years.

Loved living there.

We had a peppercorn ground rent and paid annual buildings insurance to freeholder of around £900.

They weren't great at maintenance ime you have to get on with your neighbour and share costs which can be easier said than done.

fourwalls Sat 22-Sep-12 13:39:04

Cheers guys. We've owned leasehold flats before, Georgian, Victorian and modern but never a maisonette.

Thanks tonneofbricks - lots of good info.

Sunatlast - these seem to be the ideal solution to the 'want own front door but can't afford house dilemma'.

From what I can tell there are generally no communal spaces - no shared halls and gardens often sub-divided.

So your 'shared maintenance should be generally restricted to the 'fabric' of the building - does that sound about right?

I've seen some where the top flat has an additional staircase to the rear garden which is really quirky.

Being purpose-built - are they better sound-proofed than a run of the mill Victorian conversion?

Also is your experience that, even in say a treet of leasehold maisonettes, the shared maintenance is between each two flats separately?

What I mean is that - if the whole street is leasehold maisonettes, each 'freehold unit' is the 1 upstairs / 1 downstairs 'house' structure?

So the whole street isn't legally treated as one huge block of flats/maisonettes? If that makes sense!

SunAtLast Sat 22-Sep-12 13:42:10

Yes no shared areas own front door which is what I liked about it.

Shared costs for us were roof, drains, damp proofing in downstairs flat.

Our freeholder owned both up and down flats.

SunAtLast Sat 22-Sep-12 13:43:14

Sound proofing was better than my Victorian conversion.

Staircase to garden was fine until we had kids.

fourwalls Sat 22-Sep-12 13:53:54

Thanks SunAtLast - can I pick your brains a bit further please?

If you own the top flat - does the lease allow loft access? I've not seen any with loft extensions/rooms of any sort but that could just be there are none on the market at the moment. I guess you would have to negotiate with a freeholder for this.

Was your freeholder an "Institution" - like Grosvenor or Westminster or an anonymous 'managing agent' or just a 'person' who owns freeholds?

They seem a really positive variation on the conventional conversion flat and I'm just wondering if there are any catches.

Were there any big issues that really put you off - that would make you say 'I'll never have one of them again because...'

SunAtLast Sat 22-Sep-12 13:57:44

Yes we had a huge loft space at front and smaller one at the back. One on our street had been converted.

It was a person who owned freehold. They had a small management co.

I would say the only drawback is the fact you do have to negotiate with the neighbour for maintenance.

fourwalls Sat 22-Sep-12 14:08:25

Thanks - at the moment, we're looking at selling a house by the coast to buy in London-ish - either a small flat or if we can accept a compromise on location, and can find one, a tiny house.

The neighbour negotiation experience is never easy and we'd hoped not to have to re-enter the fray. The smallest block we've lived in was three flats so there was always a 'casting vote' which was only 'sometimes' a good thing - depends if people are ganging-up with you or against you smile.

I can imagine it might be very difficult with only one neighbour - lots of scope for intransigence - so I guess it might be really bad or really good - or best of all - businesslike!

tricot39 Sat 22-Sep-12 19:17:28

i lived in an edwardian purpose built maisonette as my first property. nice to live in but i had nice neighbours who caused no problems.

the freehold of all the flats was transfered to a company owned by a housing association who did up the tenanted properties. if you owned a long lease (up to 125 years) on a flat and the other maisonette was housing assoc then you would never be able to buy a share of the freehold. this was only possible if both flats were privately owned.

there was a shared rear garden and a private stair down to it from the upper flat. some were internal and some were external. the larger gardens tended to be split so that it was not necessary to share if you didnt want to.

the freeholder was paid about 100 quid a year and provided nothing for that. but conversely demanded nothing either.

nofrills Sat 22-Sep-12 21:54:32

We are in the process of selling our upper maisonette in crouch end. For us it was perfect because we have our own front door, garden but was still affordable.
Ours is share of freehold and weave loft access. Responsibility wise we are respo sable for the floor joists and roof and our lower neighbour for the foundations however we have a good relationship so have always split costs.
Sound wise becaus they are purpose built I think the soundproofing is better, at least we have never had any problems and we used to live in a victorian converted flat where sound and noise was terrible.

So yes, big thumbs up from me. And in my experience you often get more rooms in the upper maisonettes. At least on our road the lowers are two bed the uppers are three bed.

allchangeplease Sun 23-Sep-12 00:22:35

the loft is not always accessible, again you need to ask EA in evry case . I once viewed a flat where the freeholder lived in downstairs flat (two altogether in te house) and he was prepared to sell the loft for something like 20K (this was chiswick). Sometimes loft is already included. It's good though to have freeholder living in one of the maisonettes/flats as at least they contribute a little more than you do in some aspects, having a bigger interest, and are interested in maintaning the property efficiently.

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