Reasons why you should not buy a flat

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Apart from that they are comparatively cheaper than buying a house, there are not any other good reasons why one should buy a flat.

Most flats are leasehold: Except in Scotland where a residential property is mostly freehold (the buyer is the sole owner), rest of the UK does not have this privilege. And if you buy a leasehold property in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you will be buying a property as a lessee (a tenant) who owns the property for a certain period of time. After that period the property outrights goes back to leaser. Though leasehold flats generally have a long period of a lease remaining on them (around 100 plus years), the feeling of permanence and ownership does not exist.

Flats are noisy: Generally a flat would have at least one or more at either side of them and in some cases, one below and one above as well. The likelihood of having a noisy neighbour does increase with every adjacent flat that you are going to share a wall or floor with.

Management fees: Almost all leasehold flats will have a management company that “supposedly” takes care of the building and communal areas of your flat. It also pays for the building insurance and sometimes cleans your windows as well. In return your flat has to pay a certain amount of money every month or a lump sum of it each year. The yearly fee can be anything from £400 to £1000 or more. It is not necessary that just because you pay a monthly or yearly fee you can expect to have your communal areas tidy and windows cleaned as if there is no clear wording of such responsibilities in the lease, the management company would not have to do it.

Ground rent: You also have to pay a certain amount of money as ground rent which can be anything from £20 to £100 on average.

Repairing and maintenance charges: This is probably the greatest reason why buying a flat can be so expensive in long run and can cost a substantial amount of money which will be required if the overall area of the building, which houses your flat, deteriorates or needs repairing. Once the management company has decided that such repairs are needed and willing to go forward with it, you have to chip in your portion of cost. Any major work which has anything to do with the building structure or roof can set you back a few thousand pounds.

No ownership: Leasehold flats lack the feeling of ownership both emotionally and legally. Once the lease period is gone, which may not happen in your lifetime but still, your ownership will end too. Moreover the lease may include many clauses which you will be legally required to follow; for example, many leases forbid tenants from keeping pets, smoking indoors etc.

Business as usual: Management companies are there for profit and not for you which means you would be paying for everything, if they can charge you for. Whether you need permission for putting up a new window or want to convert your loft or need a seller’s pack, it is money all the way.

Flats take longer to sell: Because they are cheap and affordable compared to regular houses, flats usually create competition for themselves. Moreover, they can be located on the 2nd or 3rd floor and can become unsuitable for a wide variety of people including family and elderly.
Flats also take longer to exchange contract as there are usually three parties involved in it – the buyer and seller, and the management company.  The triangular situation creates the need for some more paperwork and formalities, and consequently lengthens the whole process.
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