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Downsizing to an Apartment

(32 Posts)
Bakingmad0203 Mon 23-Aug-21 14:34:13

We are downsizing, and plan to move into an apartment. The apartments we have viewed have been very small with only 2 bedrooms, and an open plan kitchen, dining, living room area and a large balcony. No garage but an under croft parking space. I was wondering how Gransnetters with partners have coped with the limited space and what suggestions you have for managing storage and noise and the constant presence of a partner.

Germanshepherdsmum Wed 25-Aug-21 15:13:39

That’s excellent advice Doodle. I would add, from a legal perspective:

1. Make sure the ground rent doesn’t double every so many years, which became ‘the thing’ with new leases some years ago. It may not seem too bad at first, and the rent might not be due to rise for a good few years, but it can become quite horrendous, to the point that no-one wants to buy the flat from you.

2. Look ahead and make sure there will still be plenty of years left on the lease by the time you might want to sell. At least 90 and preferably more at that point. There comes a time, typically when around 80 years are left, when a lease is too short to be mortgageable and thus the value is very much lower. A new lease can be purchased if you’ve owned the property for at least two years but that can be very expensive. Ask your solicitor to advise on this - if you’re not getting a mortgage he/she might not think what the situation might be in say 20 years’ time, but that’s very important.

3. Your solicitor will be given the last three years’ management accounts. Study them carefully and make sure there is a sinking fund to cover the cost of large items of future maintenance expenses so as to avoid sudden unexpected bills as far as possible.

4. Your solicitor should also be advised if there are or have been disputes with the landlord or management company (if the owners of the flats don’t own and run the man co) themselves) and also whether there is any expensive maintenance work planned in the near future which the sinking fund won’t cover. That is sometimes the reason for sale.

5. Do use a good solicitor, who will give you good advice rather than just sending you a load of paperwork to wade through. Don’t choose on the basis of how much the fee is, or go with the person the estate agent recommends (the agent has a vested interest in recommending certain firms, who will pay him a recommendation fee; in my experience they tend not to be that good). Use a solicitor recommended by someone you trust.

ElaineI Wed 25-Aug-21 22:38:40


Hijacking the thread here but DD1 had a ground floor apartment (due to her disability) which already had French doors giving access to a small garden, a footpath, then a park. One Summer evening, she was relaxing in the bath when she opened her eyes to see a huge German Shepherd beside the bath watching her - closely followed by its owner with the lead! Taught her to keep the doors closed.

That has made my night Georgesgran! Who got the most shock! grin

Franbern Thu 26-Aug-21 08:30:28

Would seco.nd a lot of the good advice on here about buying a flat. Definitely would concur about more problems likely regarding maintenance in non-purpose bulds.

I really do not understand the 80 years thing with leases. One of the flats I was looking at had just over this and my Solicitor strongly advised me against buying it, as it might be more difficult for my children eventually to sell in ten or so years time. WHY???

I always always asked the cost of the current Maintenance/Service Charge when viewing a flat. The block I moved into (25 flats), runs their own M,co. and all own our leases (so no ground rent). As the Mco is run entirely by volunteers, it keeps costs down considerably. (I am now the Secretary of this)!!!

Further things to check on could be to find out what is the policy regarding flats being let out) If a large number of the flats are rental it could be difficult at all sorts of levels. Also, are pets permitted, is there a lower age limit on who lives in them (do you really want to have noisy children/teenagers - no matter how well behaved, running around in the building? Parking facilities both for yourself, visitors and workmen.

No problems with noise in my flats, they are very solidly built and faced with Weston stone. When you view, check how clean and well maintained are all the public areas.
This can give you some insight into how good are the Mco.

And, flats or houses, or bungalows - other similar rules should be taken into consideration - such as how close is the public transport, medical facilities (GP, Pharmacy, Dentist, Optician). As we are ageing, may wish take into account how wide are doorways (would they be able to accommodate a wheelchair, etc). I would say to beware of any apartment that needs to be sold via the MCo or similar. Many Retirement Flats have this rule and also have a list of tradesmen who are the only ones permitted to do any work in each flat.

As with all property, legislation is constantly changing, and flats in that way are no different to any other properties. The more we know the better position we are in. Communal gardens for an Apartment block may sound wonderful - but are often one of the most expensive items to maintain. Often have very little use,- we do not have this, but our local, beautifully maintained by volunteers local park is five minutes away.

Bakingmad0203 Thu 26-Aug-21 09:14:13

Excellent advice from you all, particularly about the maintenance/ service charges. I was interested in an apartment that overlooked a park, and had over 3 acres of gardens, but the yearly maintenance was £ 2000 and I’ve no idea what control there is over putting this up every year and by how much.! The point you made about communal gardens Franbern is very valid in the area we are looking at as it has lots of parks.

Germanshepherdsmum Thu 26-Aug-21 10:10:11

Franbern, your solicitor gave you good advice. If someone has owned a leasehold property for at least two years they have a statutory right to buy a new 99 year lease at a peppercorn rent (the fewer the years left on the lease the more expensive that is), but if a bank/building soc lends money on a leasehold property and has to foreclose it doesn’t have that right. Therefore lenders always want there to be at last 80 (sometimes more) years unexpired when the mortgage is due for repayment, so they don’t have a problem selling if they have to. If you had bought the flat and you or your children had wanted to sell in ten years it definitely wouldn’t then have been mortgageable, assuming you/they hadn’t bought a new lease, and the value of the flat would be greatly diminished. Cash buyers only.

Sunlover Thu 26-Aug-21 12:06:13

We moved to a brand new 3 bed apartment 4 years ago. We left behind a large 4 bed house with a huge garden. I’ve never had a moments regret. We have a large balcony and communal gardens. Love living on one floor. We have a large kitchen/ dining/ lounge plus a small snug which we use to sit and watch TV in the evenings. Can walk to the tube, M and S, restaurants and pubs. Best decision we ever made.