What is the best rental property: House or Flat?

If you’re looking to expand your portfolio or purchase your first buy-to-let then you may be wondering if you’re better off purchasing a house or a flat to rent out.

Both have their pros and cons but I strongly believe it’s down to you which one you would prefer to go for. You could throw as many facts and figures at it as you like but the bottom line is, business-is-business and you need to follow your gut feeling and go for what feels right.

So if there are no facts or figures then why am I sitting here writing this? Because opinion matters. Figures count for one thing but an opinion of a fellow landlord will (hopefully) help you out even more.

So which is best? A house or a flat?

Time for a positive and negative comparison!

House – The Positives

Houses are awesome – There is a certain kudos that comes from saying, “So I bought a house to rent out while I live elsewhere. No biggie.” You will look and feel like a rockstar landlord and have an amazing property to back it up.

A house is big – In comparison to a flat anyway. You could have a terraced 2-up-2-down or a 3-bed detached with driveway but either way houses are more imposing and have more land than a flat.

Garden – Pretty much every house comes with a garden. Who doesn’t love outdoor space?

BBQ… – You have a garden… BBQ. Enough said.

Houses can be attractive – If your house has half decent curb appeal then it will look fantastic. It will feel great to invite your friends around to a place which looks great.

House – The Negatives

Houses have roofs – This may seem a little odd but on average it costs £10’000 to replace a roof and these may need replacing every 50-100 years. OK so £10’000 over that amount of time seems OK but do you want to be hit with that bill?

Garden – I know what you’re thinking. I listed this as a positive. And it is! However if you get tenants who don’t care for gardens and neglect it then you need to pick up the mess later. A garden is just another thing to maintain. Legally, it is the responsibility of the landlord, even though you don’t always have legal access.

More to maintain – Talking of things to maintain. A house has a lot of extra “goodies” to go wrong. Fences, walls, conservatories, more windows, driveways, and more. These are all great things to have but a broken fence here or a dirty driveway there will all add to your expenses.

We’ve spoken about a few pros and cons to renting out a house but what do we think of flats?

Flat – The Positives

Easier to rent out – I strongly believe this. Flats appeal to younger people, especially singles and couples in professional jobs. Also you know what you’re getting with a flat. There’s no bells and whistles, just these rooms and that’s it. It’s an easy decision.

Less to maintain – A typical flat will have a bedroom or two, a kitchen, living area and a bathroom. That’s it. The walls are usually pretty solid too. A flat is a decent shell when stripped back and simply required a lick of paint to look fresh and clean again. No garden or roof to worry about.

Management company – Flats will usually be managed by a single company who deals with the common areas and general upkeep of the building. This means they will make good any damage that falls under their remit and keep the place looking great from the outside.

Rental income – Ironically, the demand for affordable housing has driven up the cost of renting a flat. The amount of rent you can demand from a flat is now comparable to that of a house yet houses will generally cost a lot more to buy.

Flat – The Negatives

Lack of space – Most flats will have limited space and are designed to be neat and compact. This is more noticeable when compared to a house with loads of rooms, a garden and a driveway. If you like your space then a flat may feel a tad cramped.

No curb appeal – Let’s face it, flats may not look so great on the outside… Or the inside (unless you have a swanky, upmarket pad). A house may show character from the street but a flat is just a multi-occupied building.

Higher turnover – Tenants in flats may not stay as long as a family in a house. It’s easy to move in and out of a flat. Their versatility may mean that tenants want to try somewhere new regularly.

Conclusion

Personally, I prefer flats. They’re easier to maintain and less can go wrong with them. I don’t have to worry how tenants are treating the garden or if the roof is OK or even if the recent storm has taken a roof tile with it. A flat is a nice little contained pod of safety and consistency.

What about all you other landlords out there. Do you have a preference? Do you prefer to rent out flats or houses? Let us know in the comments!

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Caroline Engstrom

Caroline Engstrom has a passion to help landlords and tenants by providing helpful tips and advice regarding real estates.

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