Top 20 scariest things about living in or managing an apartment building

  • Highgate Cemetery: Path leading through the East Cemetery past the memorial to Karl Marx

Living in an apartment can be heavenly – but whether you are a resident or manage a block, it doesn’t have to be Halloween for you to face some pretty scary experiences.

From noisy neighbours to spine-chilling service charges, you should be aware of the frightening facts that you might not expect or have overlooked at the outset.
  We choose the top 20 terrifying things about living in or managing an apartment block. And if you’re planning to festoon your home with horrifying Halloween decorations, don’t forget to put your pumpkin flame out – or you could end up having a real fright night!
  Top 20 scary things about living in or managing an apartment building

1. Discovering that the building is under-insured when you suffer a major loss, such as a fire.


2. Buying a short lease on a flat in a prime central London location, only to discover how much you’re going to have to stump up for a lease extension!

3. Being the property manager of a mansion block and spending three hours at a residents’ association meeting where they’re still discussing item one of the agenda – which shade of white for the corridor walls!

4. Realising that the apartment owners in your building are all Airbnb addicts and the guests are using your concierge as a hotel porter and having loud parties.

5. You find out that your neighbours have ignored the ‘immoral use’ clause and the moaning that emanates each evening from their new ‘home business’ is keeping you up all night.

6. Returning to your 39th floor penthouse to find the lift has broken down.

7. Discovering that now you’ve moved into your N6 apartment block, Karl Marx’s grave is the view from your bedroom window.

8. Seeing your neighbours wrapped in their towels when the fire alarm activates and the building is evacuated.

9. You overlook charging the residents for major works which took place more than 18 months ago and find out that you can only recover £250 per resident. 

10. Facing forfeiture because you lost a tribunal case and can’t afford your landlord’s legal costs, like 74-year-old Dennis Jackson, who almost lost his Battersea apartment.

11. Realising that your property manager has been using your block’s sinking funds and you now have nothing to carry out urgent repair works.

12. Discovering that your tenant has been keeping a family of black sable ferrets in their flat even though pets are prohibited in their lease.

13. Having taken over the management of the smallest building in your portfolio, which has the most difficult leaseholder, you spend most of your time having on the phone dealing with it.

14. When flooding sees your building washed away after a culvert collapse, like the poor residents from one block in Newburn, Tyneside, in 2012

15.  Being the third manager to be appointed by the courts of a building in disrepair with no sinking fund and the residents cannot afford any uplift in service charges – and they all hate each other and can’t agree on any works!

16. Finding out that your building has a mice and rat infestation to add to the problem of birds and bed bugs.

17. Taking over the handover of a new-build luxury apartment building only to find out that the fire sprinkler system has never been connected.

18. After buying an apartment, finding out that an expensive major works programme is about to start and you receive a service charge demand.

19. Thinking you own your flat, when your lawyer advises you don’t: your freeholder does and you just have a leasehold interest.

20. You feature in an awful lot of photographs while relaxing in your luxury apartment because it’s opposite the Tate Modern’s £360m new Switch House extension.

So, what horror stories do you have about your apartment block? Please share your stories with us via twitter @newsontheblock or email

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