Buy to Fret in Londons finest blocks

Monday, December 16, 2013 by Douglas And Gordon


The increase in buy to let has altered the feel of some of London’s finest blocks, and not for the better many are complaining. Many of the new breed of tenants are from overseas and the idea of having a porter is very appealing post 9/11, and especially in the Ebay/Amazon era of deliveries during working hours.


It’s an odd coincidence but for some residents the most solid looking blocks in London often don't fulfil that promise. A robust exterior sometimes hides an interior build that allows rather too much noise transmission between floors and it’s this that creates the issues. As an owner one tends to form long lasting relationships with neighbours, but tenants often simply don’t have that mindset. Knowing they’ll be out in 6 months allied to perhaps a different attitude to money can make it very tiring for neighbours. It’s often expensive making sure that quiet enjoyment, as leases tend to mandate, can be enjoyed by all.


Originally of course these blocks, often built in the late 1800s or early 1900s, simply didn’t have to cater for the panoply of modern appliances. Sound, vision and cleaning create a cacophony these days, and it’s often the most irritating tones that travel best through floors literally driving neighbours mad. Many of these blocks became popular with the older generations in the 1950s and 60s and of course their hearing simply meant they didn’t hear as much of this transmitted noise. With the increasing demand for safe and secure blocks average ages have plummeted, Cranmer Court in SW3 has gone from an average age of c. 80 to 55 over the last 30 years, And these aurally aware relative youngsters are increasingly complaining and it’s a problem that’s not going away anytime soon.


When friends ask for advice I always recommend the one or two blocks locally built in such a way that you could let off a hand grenade without anyone noticing. They invariably come away unable bear the aesthetic trade off.


If you’re buying a flat in a block, and particularly if you want to let it out, you should think very carefully about what sort of relationship you want with your neighbours.