Flat is the term commonly used in the United Kingdom to refer to the housing units within a building, whereas a common term for the same units in the United States would be an apartment. A flat, like an apartment, is a residential unit which is detached, but is part of a larger building that has multiple units. In the common sense, both flats and apartments mean self-contained housing units occupying just one part of the building. In general, a flat and an apartment refer to personal housing space one may either rent or purchase.
A living space is called an apartment when it is a part of a separate building. The main difference between them is that, whereas a flat is a part of a housing association, apartments are owned by individual buildings. However, in the United Kingdom, units that are one storey high are considered flats, whereas units with two or more storeys are called apartments.
While the words flat are frequently used interchangeably, some refer to single-story units as flats due to their flat character. In some parts of the world, the word flat refers to an intentionally built unit within a building, whereas flat means an upgraded unit within an older building, typically an older home. In some parts of the world, flat may also refer to converted, detached units in an older building.
Flat may be defined as one set of rooms within a larger building that contains a number of other similar dwellings. As mentioned earlier, the term flat refers to a dwelling made of multiple rooms in one single story of a building that contains other, similar, residences. The word apartment is preferred in the United States, though some cities use flat to denote an apartment which is part of a home containing two or three units, usually one per floor. In some countries, flats and apartments may both refer to housing units with lower quality, intended for lower-income families.
In some countries of the United Kingdom, a flat means a lower-quality housing, whereas an apartment means a higher-end, more luxurious housing. Almost equally, in some scenarios, apartments are used to describe higher standards of living compared with flats. According to Oxford Dictionary, in American English, flats mean any kind of apartment; in British English, however, an apartment usually means an apartment which is either nicely appointed or used as holiday accommodation.
An apartment is a suite of rooms, consisting of one bedroom, one kitchen, and at least one bathroom, in a family, situated in a building of several such suites, apartments are usually rented properties. Both terms are used for personal residences, which are made up of a number of rooms located on a single level, in a single, larger building. Multi-story buildings are multi-story buildings in which three or more dwellings are contained within the same structure.
If you are in a multi-story home and no one is above or below your unit, but on either side, it is called a townhouse. However, in Chicago, a two-story structure with a legally-built apartment on each floor is known as a double-flat, rather than a duplex. In Chicago, a duplex is defined as a detached, single-unit structure consisting of two floors, with internal stairs connecting both, usually in a condominium.
A rich part of the Chicago Two-Familys history was initially designed to be multi-unit units, rented as 2 units, or a single-family house with double the square footage. Three-flats, along with the 4-flat, were responses to a similar housing need among immigrants, built on top, not on the bottom, of Chicago.
In fact, over time, this idea became so popular, homeowners were demolishing their bungalows, apartments, or single-family homes in order to replace their bungalows with taller buildings containing multiple flats. When the Industrial Revolution started, a large influx of immigrants came from rural areas into the cities, so the idea to construct an self-sufficient block comprising multiple flats was thought up during this era. Similar to duplexes, a property owner in a building can live in one unit, and at the same time, lease out another unit, earning revenue.
When a portion of a home is converted to supposedly serve a member of the owners household, the detached unit can be known as a in-laws flat, annex, or granny flat, although often, these (sometimes illegally) created units are occupied by regular tenants instead of a relatives of the owner. Flats are typically occupied by lower-middle-class persons, while apartments are occupied by the upper-middle-class. A Flat is a collection of rooms — 1 BHK, 2 BHK, or more — within the larger structure, aka society. As such, studio flats are typically made of one, big room that is then divided into various areas either through furniture or part walls.
Their name, not coincidentally enough, comes from the fact that flats are mostly one-level housing, consisting of one suite or rooms, all situated on a floor. While apartments are still formed by a set of rooms, they may be spread over more than one floor, and are also considered better appointed and more luxurious than the plain flat. Two-flats are large buildings, at about 1,250 square feet per unit, with a brick or framed exterior, and have a single set of up-and-down stairs leading to the entrance.
While it is true that Brits are more likely to use flat rather than apartment, and vice versa, there are real differences, however subtle, in what each term means. You will hear the term flat sometimes in the US, but you will also hear both flat used in the UK. An apartment (American English), or flat (British English, Indian English, South African English), is a self-contained unit of housing (a type of residential property) which occupies just one portion of a building, usually one storey.
Today, the oldest extant self-contained flat buildings are located in the St Kilda area, including Fawkner Mansions (1910), Majestic Mansions (1912, used as boarding houses), and Canterbury (1914–the oldest extant flat-contained building).