When you’re a renter and looking for a place to live, you may know exactly what you want in an apartment, like hardwood floors, two bedrooms, and a place that’s close to public transportation. What you may not know, however, is what type of landlord you prefer: a large property management company or an individual owner.
Like many other decisions about where you make your home, there are several pros and cons to both options. Here, we’ll go over the specific pros and cons that come with renting an individually-owned apartment.
Pro: You’ll Have Easier Access to Your Landlord
Dealing with a property management company isn’t necessarily impossible, but it can be more difficult to get a hold of the correct person if you need something fixed, have a question regarding your lease, or need to discuss breaking your lease. Renting an individually-owned apartment makes it easier to get to know the landlord personally and therefore have better communication when things get broken or your apartment needs to be given special attention.
Pro: You Probably Won’t Be Charged Additional Fees
It seems like a large company will try every which way to charge you extra for any little thing. When you’re dealing with an individual owner, it’s less likely that they’re going to nickel and dime you for month-to-month charges or knock off money from your deposit over something small like failing to clean the ceiling fan. When your landlord only has a few tenants, it’s reasonable to think that they will be more understanding and patient, since they won’t feel so overwhelmed by the number of issues around them.
Pro: Things Will Probably Get Fixed Faster
Your landlord has a lot invested in their rental property. It’s in their best interest to keep it as nice as possible so that it can continue to earn them money for years to come. Because of this vested self-interest, it’s likely that they’ll be quicker to fix anything that’s going wrong in your apartment. By contrast, larger property management companies have to deal with hundreds of maintenance requests at any given time, which means it could take quite a while for them to get to your issue, especially if it’s a small one.
Con: There’s No One Else to Complain to
When you’re dealing with an individually-owned property, there’s no upper management, parent company, or other workers who can respond to your requests. This means that if you have a completely unresponsive landlord, it can be very difficult to get them to work with you on repairs, issues on your lease, or anything else that might pop up.
If you are truly having an emergency and your landlord is still unresponsive, there is some recourse you can take. Because your landlord is legally obligated to provide a safe and clean environment for every one of their tenants, you can report them to the local housing authority if those basic needs aren’t being met.
Con: They Might Be Disorganized
Property management companies are in the business of managing tenants and the properties that they live in. On the other hand, an individual landlord might be in a completely different business and just so happen to own a rental property on the side. Because of this lack of experience, your landlord might be disorganized and lack the knowledge it takes to efficiently deal with tenant complaints. This can be especially dangerous to those tenants who don’t understand their basic rights and lead to some not-so-desirable situations like living with broken appliances or paying for expensive repairs themselves.
Con: The Repair Process is Less Efficient
Property management companies process maintenance requests in a regimented, entirely professional manner. On top of that, they either hire their own handymen or contract the work out to a reputable company. By contrast, an individual landlord could just get their husband or son — neither of whom are certified or trained — to do repairs for them. It’s likely that if you are living in a larger property or complex that your repair process will be much more efficient than it would in an individually-owned place.
Con: You and Your Landlord Could Get Too Friendly
It’s easy to get to know your landlord at an individually-owned place because it doesn’t have as much bureaucracy. Some tenants and landlords even become friends because that traditional “business-relationship wall” eventually gets torn down. However, this can put the tenant in a tricky spot. If you establish a friendship with your landlord, the business side of your relationship can suffer because they might not feel like they have to take care of your problems right away. This also can make you feel awkward to ask for things to be taken care of because you view them as a friend and not as a person you do business with.