Mansion block flats and apartments are a regular feature of the West End of London and other parts of the city. Take a stroll around the quieter, largely residential enclaves of the likes of Chiswick, Belsize Park, Kensington or Barons Court and you’ll encounter multiple mansion blocks, often in the red-brick Victorian style, with imposing facades and pleasing proportions.
First built in the late 19th century, the majority of mansion blocks are in good locations, and residents can usually benefit from high ceilings, large windows, wood flooring, and original period features. However, there are advantages and disadvantages to mansion block apartments, and if you’re thinking of investing in one, there are things to look out for.
Here’s some tips for potential investors:
- Tip 1: Look for a mansion block apartment in a good location in an established area. An apartment such as this is likely to hold its value (a priority for any property investor). If you plan to buy the property to let it out, check the level of tenant demand.
- Tip 2: Does the apartment have attractive period features? Are the rooms well-proportioned and spacious? Potential buyers and tenants who are interested in this type of property will usually be looking for well-preserved period features and good proportions, so you should bear this in mind when looking for an apartment to invest in.
- Tip 3: What type of maintenance scheme is on offer? How is the maintenance side of things managed? Is the block well-managed? Period properties can prove costly to maintain, so check on the service charge. What sort of rules do residents have to abide by? A mansion block is a communal building, so make sure to check fully about maintenance schemes, the cost of such a scheme, and any service charges.
- Tip 4: Don’t be seduced by the architectural grandeur of the building’s façade. Think like a business investor: is the road the building looks out onto very busy with traffic? How well-insulated is the apartment itself? How efficient is the heating system? If you wanted to carry out some improvements yourself prior to letting out the property, would you be able to do so? Make sure the practicalities are ironed out before you decide to invest.
What are the advantages of mansion blocks?
- Mansion blocks, and the apartments within them, tend to maintain their value. Mansion blocks have proved enduringly popular with renters and buyers alike, so can prove a good option for property investors.
- Victorian and Edwardian mansion blocks were built with grandeur in mind. The exterior architecture tends to age well, and it is this sense of luxury and refinement which continues to appeal to buyers and tenants.
- Mansion blocks are often gated and may even have a porter or concierge on-site. When investing in a mansion block apartment, it’s preferable to find somewhere which feels safe and secure, as this will appeal to tenants and future buyers.
- Mansion blocks can come with various perks, such as communal sports facilities, a swimming pool, car parking or a gym. However, it’s advisable to check how much it would cost per year for the use and general maintenance of such facilities.
What are the disadvantages of mansion blocks?
- Mansion blocks tend to have elegant communal hallways and corridors, but this is at the expense of the individual apartments. Some mansion block apartments can feel spacious, especially if the rooms have high ceilings, but they can also have small kitchens and bathrooms.
- Mansion block apartments can be draughty and poorly-insulated. Though larger, single-glazed windows are architecturally appealing, they are not usually successful at keeping the warmth in and the cold out.
- Is there a lift in the building? Often no lifts are incorporated into old mansion blocks, so depending on where the apartment is situated within the building, this might be something to consider.
- What is the service charge? The downside to having access to a communal garden or gym is that there may be a service charge. Building insurance and maintenance costs may also have to be factored in.
Queens Club Gardens
Queens Club Gardens was built in the late 19th century, and comprises 33 mansion blocks set around central communal gardens and tennis courts. Architecturally appealing, and in an enviable location, maintenance and upkeep of Queens Club Gardens is managed by the Estates Office on-site.