Basic concepts about real estate and flats
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Estate agents usual fees
Estate agents who handle lettings of commercial property normally charge
between 7–10% of the first years rent as fees, this is in addition to
taking the first month’s rent in its entirety. This will be the total fee.
If, say, two agents are charging 10%, they split this between them. Estate
agents selling commercial property (known as investment agents) typical
charge 1% of the sale price.
The fees charged by residential Letting Agents are extremely variable,
depending on whether the agent manages the property or simply arranges new
tenants. Charges to prospective tenants can vary from zero to £300 in non-refundable
fees usually described as “Application”, “Administration” or “Processing”
fees (or all three). There are no guidelines for letting agents on charges
except that they are forbidden by law to charge a fee for seeing a list of
properties; otherwise, they are free to charge as they please.
The first month’s rent in advance plus a refundable bond (usually equal to
a month’s rent) is also generally required. Most residential lettings in
the UK are effected through a particular form of contract known as an
“assured shorthold tenancy”. Assured Shorthold tenancies (generally
referred to simply as “Shorthold”) give less statutory protection in terms
of security of tenure than earlier, mostly obsolete, types of residential
lettings. Shorthold Tenancy agreements are standard contracts generally
available from legal stationers and the internet for around £1, the
average lettings agent will charge £30 to provide such a contract.
Estate agents selling residential property generally charge between 1/2%
to 4% of the sales price plus VAT, depending on the contractual
arrangement and whether an individual firm has sole rights to the sale.
What is a estate agent?
Estate Agent is a European English term for a person or business that
arranges the selling, renting or management of homes, land and other
buildings, although an agent that specialises in renting is often called a
Letting Agent. Estate agents are mainly engaged in the marketing of
property available for sale and a Solicitor or Licensed Conveyancer is
used to prepare the legal documents. In Scotland, however, many solicitors
also act as estate agents, a practice that is rare in England and Wales.
It is customary in the United Kingdom and in Ireland to refer to real
estate or real property simply as property.
Other kind of apartments
In some parts of the world, the word apartment refers to a new purpose-built
self-contained residential unit in a building, whereas the word flat means
a converted self-contained unit in an older building. An industrial,
warehouse, or commercial space converted to an apartment or flat is
commonly called a loft.
When part of a house is converted for the ostensible use of a landlord’s
family member, the unit may be known as an in-law apartment or flat or
granny flat, though these (sometimes illegally) created units are often
occupied by ordinary renters rather than family members. In Canada these
suites are commonly located in the basements of houses and are therefore
normally called basement suites.
In Milwaukee vernacular architecture, a “Polish flat” is an existing small
house or cottage that has been lifted up to accommodate the creation of a
new basement floor housing a separate apartment, then set down again; thus
becoming a modest two-story flat.
Flat and apartment characteristics
Laundry facilities may be found in a common area accessible to all the
tenants in the building, or each apartment or flat may have its own
facilities. Depending on when the building was built and the design of the
building, utilities such as water, heating, and electricity may be common
for all the flats in the building or separate for each apartment or flat
and billed separately to each tenant (however, many areas in the US have
ruled it illegal to split a water bill among all the tenants, especially
if a pool is on the premises). Outlets for connection to telephones are
typically included in flats. Telephone service is optional and is
practically always billed separately from the rent payments. Cable
television and similar amenities are extra also. Parking space(s), air
conditioner, and extra storage space may or may not be included with an
apartment. Rental leases often limit the maximum number of people who can
reside in each apartment. On or around the ground floor of the apartment
or flat building, a series of mailboxes are typically kept in a location
accessible to the public and, thus, to the letter-carrier too. Every unit
typically gets its own mailbox with individual keys to it. Some very large
apartment or flat buildings with a full-time staff may take mail from the
mailman and provide mail-sorting service. Near the mailboxes or some other
location accessible by outsiders, there may be a buzzer (equivalent to a
doorbell) for each individual unit. In smaller apartment or flat buildings
such as two- or three-flats, or even four-flats, garbage is often disposed
of in trash containers similar to those used at houses. In larger
buildings, garbage is often collected in a common trash bin or dumpster.
For cleanliness or minimizing noise, many lessors will place restrictions
on tenants regarding keeping pets in an apartment.
Flat and apartment types
Flats can be classified into several types. One being a Studio, efficiency,
bedsit, or bachelor style flats. These all tend to be the smallest flats
with the cheapest rents in a given area. These kinds of apartment or flat
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. Moving up
from the efficiencies are one-bedroom flats where one bedroom is a
separate room from the rest of the apartment. Then there are two-bedroom,
three-bedroom, etc. flats. Small flats often have only one entrance/exit.
Large flats often have two entrances/exits, perhaps a door in the front
and another in the back. Depending on the building design, the entrance/exit
doors may be directly to the outside or to a common area inside, such as a
hallway. Depending on location, flats may be available for rent furnished
with furniture or unfurnished into which a tenant usually moves in with
their own furniture. A garden apartment or flat has some characteristics
of a townhouse: each apartment or flat has its own entrance, and
apartments are not placed vertically over one another. However, a garden
apartment or flat is usually only one story high and never more than two
stories; they are often one-bedrooms and almost never more than two-bedrooms.
Some garden apartment or flat buildings place a one-car garage under each
apartment, with pedestrian entrances from a common courtyard open at one
end. The grounds are more landscaped than for other modestly scaled flats.
Alternately, “garden apartment” can refer to a unit built half below
grade, putting its windows at garden level.
Flats and apartments
An apartment or flat is a self-contained housing unit that occupies only
part of a building. Apartments or flats may be owned (by an owner-occupier)
or rented (by tenants).
The term “apartment” is favored in North America, whereas the term “flat”
is sometimes, but not exclusively used in the United Kingdom and most
other English-speaking areas and Commonwealth nations.
Some apartment-dwellers own their flats, either as co-ops, in which the
residents own shares of a corporation that owns the building or
development; or in condominiums, whose residents own their flats and share
ownership of the public spaces. Most apartments are in buildings designed
for the purpose, but large older houses are sometimes divided into
apartments. The word apartment or flat connotes a residential unit or
section in a building. apartment or flat building owners, lessors, or
managers often use the more general word units to refer to apartments.
Units can be used to refer to rental business suites as well as
residential flats. When there is no tenant occupying an apartment, the
lessor is said to have a vacancy.
For apartment or flat lessors, each vacancy represents a loss of income
from rent-paying tenants for the time the apartment or flat is vacant
(i.e., unoccupied). Lessors’ objectives are often to minimize the vacancy
rate for their units. The owner of the apartment or flat typically when
transferring possession to the occupant(s) gives him/her the key to the
apartment or flat entrance door(s) and any other keys needed to live there,
such as a common key to the building or any other common areas, and an
individual unit mailbox key. When the occupant(s) move out, these keys are
typically returned to the owner.