A Flat or Apartment is a self-contained housing unit that occupies only part of a building. Apartments may be owned (by an owner-occupier) or rented (by tenants).
The term "Flat" tends to be used in the United Kingdom whereas the term "Apartment" is favoured in North America. Flats/Apartments can be Either Owned or Rented by the occupants.
Some Flat / Apartment-dwellers own their apartments and the Communal areas, either as co-ops / shared ownership in which the residents own shares of a company that owns the building or development; and share ownership of the public spaces. Or the building is owned by a property company and the Flats are owned Leasehold (effectively a long term rental agreement often for 50+ years). Land was often "sold" on a 999 year lease with restriction (covenants) as to what could be done with it impossed by the Owner. Most apartments are in buildings designed for the purpose, but large older houses are sometimes divided into apartments. To pay for the upkeep of the common areas and the external maintenance the Building owner or Management company charges a fee to all the Flat / Apartment owners (occupiers) called a service charge. This is generally based on the size of each flat / apartment, so is shared pro-rata between them.
With council/ or housing association Flats this is built into the rent for the Flat unit. When there is no tenant occupying an apartment, the Landlord is said to have a vacancy or void.
Flat or Apartment types
Flats or Apartments can be classified into several types :-
- Studio or bedsit; These all tend to be the smallest apartments with the cheapest rents in a given area. These kinds of apartment usually consist mainly of a large room which is the living, dining, and bedroom combined. There are usually kitchen facilities as part of this central room, but the bathroom is its own smaller separate room.
- one-bedroom apartments; where one bedroom is a separate room from the rest of the apartment.These kinds of apartment usually consist mainly of a large room which is the living, dining, and kitchen combined. But the bathroom is in its own smaller separate room. Due to fire regulations they have a small corridor (hall) linking the rooms.
- Two-bedroom, as one bedroomed but with Two bedrooms and Usually an En-site bathroom with shower, toilet, and basin to the master bedroom. Living space may be slightly bigger than a one bed.
- Three-bedroom, As above but with 3 bedrooms (very rare in most UK developments other than conversions or in London Mansion blocks.
- Duplex, usually Two bedroomed and of split level design. Often at the top of blocks.
Depending on location, apartments may be available for rent furnished with furniture or unfurnished into which a tenant moves in with their own furniture.
Council Flats were often of a better size then Private developer flats as they were built to Parker Morris standards which laid down sizes based on number of occupants.
(based on Wikipedia definition but re wrote for UK terminology and definitions)