A flat is a British English term for what would otherwise be known as an apartment (in the American vernacular). A flat shares all of the same qualities that a traditional apartment exhibits. It is located within a larger housing complex and in most cases, it will share at least one wall with an adjoining property. A flat is a self-contained living space; amenities such as a bathroom, kitchen, living and dining area are included in most arrangements. Utilities may be shared with other tenants (such as community upkeep costs) or they may instead be paid directly by the owner or renter.
One of the advantages of a flat from a rental point of view is that any damages or repairs (as long as they are not caused by the renter) are covered under contract. Thus, there is much less risk of renting a flat than owning a house.
Also, flats tend to be very popular alternatives during a downturn of the real estate market. When housing prices plummet, rental prices for flats will generally follow suit. This will make these properties much more of an attractive alternative until the market eventually stabilizes. Furthermore, the economy may dictate that a standalone home is not within one's budget, thus a flat can be a welcome possibility
As the urban population continues to increase, flats and apartments will continue to become a larger part of the real estate market. This is particularly the case should the economy remain sluggish into the foreseeable future.