Last edited 23 Sep 2020


The term ‘maisonette’ refers to an apartment on two or more storeys of a larger building with its own internal staircase. It is derived from the French ‘maisonnette’, meaning 'a little house'.

In most of the UK, maisonettes have their own separate entrance, distinguishing them from flats, which are reached through a common entrance. They are often found above shops, with an entrance to the side of the shopfront. Historically, maisonettes have been considered more desirable than flats. In Scotland, a maisonette is a two storey house within a block of flats and reached through a common entrance.

Maisonettes are sometimes now referred to as 'duplexes', a term that has become increasingly popular due to its perceived Americanism. Generally, ‘maisonette’ is still used to describe more traditional apartments, whereas ‘duplex’ is applied to apartments with a more modern design.

Strangely, however, and rather confusingly, in the USA, a ‘duplex’ is a dwelling comprising two apartments with separate entrances, whether they are side by side or one above the other.

Where a maisonette is on the top floor of a high-rise building, it might also be referred to as a penthouse.

There is some dispute about whether an apartment with a mezzanine level should be referred to as a maisonette.

In Europe, the term maisonette can be used to describe holiday cottages or flats.

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