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Anyone ever bought ex-council/high-rise flat in London?

(31 Posts)
doings Fri 07-Aug-15 17:06:45

I need to get a flat in London as commuting is killing me. I can only consider cheap end of the market as it needs to be as central as possible otherwise it defeats the object.

It looks like that leaves me with ex-council or high-rise flats. I'm going purpose built as my experience of conversions isn't good with noise transfer.

Does anyone live in one on here and what's it like? No kids with me now, so don't have to consider schools etc. Any advice welcome, thanks.

SomedayMyPrinceWillCome Fri 07-Aug-15 17:11:36

I bought an ex council place 10 yrs ago & its fab. Could never have afforded this area (zone 2) otherwise. Big rooms, lots of cupboards, lots of windows. Really good value for money. I can't understand why ex council properties are cheaper than other properties - snobbery perhaps?

exexpat Fri 07-Aug-15 17:14:18

I would be wary of buying a flat in a block where the local authority is still the freeholder/manager - private owners can get hit with massive repair bills, and have little control over spending decisions (unlike privately controlled blocks where you should have some input into the management company).

It can lead to situations like this: Residents forced to pay £14,000 repair bills before their homes are torn down.

WhatKatyDidnt Fri 07-Aug-15 17:15:36

Good value per square foot but beware maintenance costs. Owner occupiers can be hit with big bills for shared facilities such as lifts and the council will (I think) have the final say on which contractor to use.

Coffeemarkone Fri 07-Aug-15 17:16:10

I would be very wary for that very reason exex said.
YOu just dont know what a council has planned for your building.
If there are say 14 flats in the block, and the outside gets painted, you will be hit with 1/14 of the bill...

WhatKatyDidnt Fri 07-Aug-15 17:16:10


Hechan Fri 07-Aug-15 17:22:38

I used to own one, I put in new windows for about 4 grand, then the council decided to do all the windows in the block a few years later - our share came to 7K, or, discounted to have only our share of the associated works (scaffolding, painting etc) WITHOUT ANY NEW WINDOWS came to 4 grand. Bastards.

Coffeemarkone Fri 07-Aug-15 17:27:37

I used to own one and was not hit with any bills. But it was always a worry.

Doje Fri 07-Aug-15 17:40:31

I used to own one, but low rise - only 4 floors. Never had a bill from the council. The threat is always there I suppose, but I think the councils are quite conscious of what the people on the estates can afford.

It was a great flat, loads of space for zone 2 with a huge balcony and lots of storage. Much bigger than the private ones just opposite that were vastly more expensive too.

Spickle Fri 07-Aug-15 19:10:17

Mortgage lenders don't like lending on high rises, particularly above 7th floor, they can be picky about "concrete cancer" in case the high rise doesn't last as long as the loan and needs to be pulled down. (You should have a survey to look at the concrete anyway).

Also if the high rise is still managed by the local authority, be aware that there could be major works planned for which you would have to pay your share (i.e. installing new lifts which would be very costly).

Amethyst24 Fri 07-Aug-15 19:19:41

I lived in mine from 2005 to 2012, then rented it out and later sold it. It appreciated a lot in value. It's on a big estate, there were a few problems but over the time I lived there the estate improved a lot. I wasn't hit with massive bills, although the accounting did tend to be a bit erratic.

CityDweller Fri 07-Aug-15 22:30:25

Depends a lot on the estate / block. I've lived in two ex-la flats, both still run by respective councils. One (we're currently in) has been wonderful - beautiful flat, lovely neighbours, great community feel, amazing part of central London. But it's a pretty exceptional estate (it's listed). Our previous flat not so great - really crappy sound insulation and psycho neighbour.

And do make sure, if you proceed, to get your solicitor to fully investigate any planned works. New windows have been planned for our estate forever, so I'll be amazed if it ever actually happens which would result in a massive bill for us. However, they usually set up a plan whereby you can pay in interest-free instalments or defer payment until you sell the property.

doings Sat 08-Aug-15 08:23:13

Many thanks for all your feedback. I'm cheered to read positive comments. I've been researching 'concrete cancer' and horror stories of maintenance charges so am aware of the pitfalls but just wondered what anyone's experience of living in them was.

It's been 20 years since I last lived 'in town' although I've been working in London all this time. Things change over the years.

Likely areas for me are:
Hackney/London fields
Walmouth/Elephant & Castle
Oval Kennington

If anyone knows these to be psycho neighbourhoods now, pls let me know and thanks again for the help��

Duckstar Sat 08-Aug-15 08:39:00

We lived in one in Westminster. Lovely 1920 block.

Yes, you can get hit with repair bills, but your service charge is massively lower then private block, so there is no fund for repairs. The repair bill, they don't demand the lump sum in full. In our block the windows were done and we were able to pay back over 2 years. The HA were a lot better then a lot of private management companies. If the lift broke it was fixed ASAP.

We sold our flat to move outside London. It was worth 320k in 2010 it's now worth 600k (the same as our house in the Thames Valley).

Duckstar Sat 08-Aug-15 08:39:53

Agree on the mortgage. We were told many mortgage companies didn't like buildings higher then 5 floors.

stripytees Sat 08-Aug-15 12:40:58

If you're looking in Deptford, there are lots of 1980s private purpose built blocks between New Cross and Deptford stations. Look at Mornington Rd for example. The prices haven't gone up as much because there are so many similar flats. I lived there years ago and it was ok, excellent for commuting.

doings Sat 08-Aug-15 14:20:43

Thanks stripytees I'll check this out. Good to know as I'm not familiar with this area at all. I've always been north of the river but have many friends who live and much prefer the south and it still looks the cheaper option.

CityDweller Sat 08-Aug-15 14:40:13

I'm not a fan of Elephant & Castle in general. Although there is a lovely block right on the roundabout that has been converted from an office building (designed by Goldfinger, called Metro Heights Central) - the views down the Thames are great.

London Fields/ Hackney would be where I'd pick out of your list. Some interesting estates around there. I recommend this blog if you're into mid-century/ brutalist/ modernist stuff

doings Sat 08-Aug-15 23:15:13

Great, thanks CityDweller I'm off for a recce tomorrow.

MoonlightS0nata Sun 09-Aug-15 04:54:48

I have relations who live in the Barbican and it seems to be generally well run, although I understand that the service charges are quite high. They are very happy with the location and the flats are a good size, although it does have the brutalist architecture.

Seriouslyffs Sun 09-Aug-15 06:39:27

Ha! moonlight the Barbican is hardly your typical council estate. I'm sure your relatives in their £million flats would be flattered by your appraisal.
The British mindset that flats are crap is so damaging. angry
Not you OP- as others have said possible pitfalls include service charges for unexpected bills, getting a mortgage on a high rise and of course neighbours. Of the areas you mention, E&C is least nice but is improving and has great transport links. They're all buzzy London though. Good Luck!

CityDweller Sun 09-Aug-15 13:47:58

1 bed flats in the Barb now go for £850k+, often pushing a million. And service charge is £3k a year.

Amethyst24 Sun 09-Aug-15 14:11:41

Mine was between Oval and Brixton. The Kennington side is even nicer.

grumbleina Sun 09-Aug-15 20:01:37

If you can find something in Hackney then I'd go there choosing from your list, depending where you work (if you work west the commute might get nasty).

I live in an ex-council, though the freehold is now privately owned. Works are agreed and budgeted in advance, so no horrible surprises. Absolutely love it. Big rooms (for London) and a layout that makes sense, unlike the cheap end of period conversions. And solid! No noise issues either.

Brick built is best, and low rise is better as others have said, as you can't usually get a mortgage on high rise.

Whitechapel might be worth a look as the transport links are great and getting better all the time - it's not as leafy as hackney but I'd choose it over Deptford personally.

aaamanda Wed 12-Aug-15 19:28:09

They're London's best kept secret. I decided to look at street properties in the area I was renting in - small blocks on residential streets - but I've ended up buying in a pig ugly large estate of the type that I thought I might end up in if I failed my A levels and took up drug dealing.

And I have to say I love it!! I have more than 1,000 square feet, large windows, a balcony and the kind of 1970s styling that suits my mid century furniture down to the ground.

There's no traffic noise because it's off the street and while there's occasional rowdiness on a summer evening, nothing worse than I had in my Victorian conversion. I worried about dodgy neighbours but I have to say everyone is nice, friendly, normal...just hard-up, or disabled or elderly.

I love the fact that it's purpose built - none of the carved up corridors of my old conversion but not poky like a lot of new builds.

It's horses for courses but I could have bought a large period garden flat in zone 3 or even a house in zone 4 but I'm so glad I didn't. I'm in an amazing area in zone 2 where houses go for over a million and loads of great shops, green space etc.

There's such snobbery about ex council, and there is the issue with capital works, (but then my friends have just had to pay 17 grand to get their roof fixed on their Victorian mansion block). But I have to say that in my experience it is just snobbery. I think they're brilliant bargains.

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