5 key differences between condos and apartments
Deciding between living in a condominium or an apartment can be daunting - but with the right information, finding your perfect property is simple! This article will delve into the key facts regarding the age-old debate of apartment vs. condo to help you make an educated choice and avoid second-guessing.
What is the difference between a condo and an apartment?
OwnershipThe main difference comes down to ownership. Condominiums are owned by individuals and rented out privately (this is your typical landlord). In contrast, apartments are generally owned by property management companies who rent and manage all the units, creating a more standard approach and leasing process.
Apartment living is a unique experience since these properties are often owned by property management companies that ensure uniformity across all housing units. Located in residential buildings and complexes or within entire communities, apartments provide tenants with standard guidelines they must follow within their units and common areas. In addition to dictating expectations among residents, this same company provides individuals with access to an on-site leasing office – entitling them to support both during the tenancy and when searching for new units at the respective complex or community.
A Condominium, more commonly known as a "condo,” is a residential property privately owned and rented out to tenants. Unlike apartments that are leased via an agency or landlord on-site, renting condominiums involves a one-on-one process between the owner of the condo and the prospective tenant. As such, it allows for personalized decision-making about who can rent their unit while also granting flexibility regarding rental agreement conditions.
However, in many cases, a condominium will have a professional property management company that will manage the community’s common areas and enforce the property’s rules and regulations. This can provide the added benefit of having a professional team onsite who can assist with maintenance, neighborly, or amenity concerns.
For those facing issues with their apartment beyond what they're able to handle, there's no need to panic. Contacting the property owner or management company is an easy first step and will quickly put you one step closer to resolving the issue. Living in a community with dedicated maintenance staff or on-call services can provide even faster solutions - offering peace of mind for all tenants.
However, there are some constraints when performing repairs in your apartment. Customizing the look of your home with personal touches may be limited, as leasing offices uphold strict design standards across all units within their building. If any maintenance issues arise, you must report them before attempting any DIY repair solutions.
In a condo, maintenance within the units is the responsibility of each owner. While they might respond to your issues faster since they're not managing an entire building of units, it can just as easily take them longer since they have to secure an independent vendor to make repairs.
Like apartments, issues in common areas are usually the homeowner's association’s responsibility. If you have anything to report, you should contact them since they'll have protocols for issues in those areas.
When considering a rental unit, don't expect much interior customization. Apartment complexes tend to offer similar accommodations with minor variations in quality and amenities; essential services like laundry facilities, outdoor pools, and gyms may be available, or you could find additional luxuries such as dog parks, tennis courts, and valet services at more high-end addresses. Ultimately it comes down to where the property is located along with its level of luxury.
Those renting a condo can expect more of an individual touch than other rental options. Rather than the standard appliances and updates, tenants may find distinct features in their new home, such as granite countertops, hardwood flooring, personalized paint colors, or interesting backsplashes in the kitchen- all tailored by the landlord/owner. In the community, you’ll likely find luxurious amenities such as concierge services, garage parking, outdoor areas, a fitness center, and even an indoor or outdoor pool, depending on the property’s size and location.
RentNeither apartments nor condos have set rent prices or are necessarily more expensive than the other. Ultimately, the rental price will come down to the comparable in the neighborhood, meaning they should cost about the same amount. However, any additional amenities or upgrades can factor into the pricing. The main focus should be on your budget and what rental prices meet those limits.
FeesSigning a new lease is always accompanied by fees that must be considered. Apartment rentals feature consistent costs, but condo fees can vary considerably depending on the landlord's agreement with you. To ensure there are no unpleasant surprises, ask as many questions as necessary to accurately anticipate how much will need to be paid upfront.
When looking for a new place to call home, understanding the full range of fees associated with rental properties can seem overwhelming. The most common fees to expect when renting an apartment are listed below;
- First and last month's rent
- Security deposit equal to one month's
- Pet fee/deposit (if applicable)
- Application fees (generally charged before contracts are signed to facilitate credit and background checks)
Condo fees are up to the unit owner, so they can vary. You may be able to negotiate whether you put down the first and last month's rent and a security payment if that's more than you can provide.
The only unique fee you may end up paying relates to HOA fees. These can be due monthly or annually, and the condo owner may incorporate it into your rent or ask you to pay it while you're occupying the unit.
“HOA fees typically cover the costs of maintaining the building's common areas, such as lobbies, patios, landscaping, swimming pools, and elevators. These HOA fees can vary based on the company's level of service, type of property, and market.”.
It is always advised to speak with your potential landlord regarding expected fees and what is included in your monthly rent amount to ensure it aligns with your budget.
At FirstService Residential, we specialize in professional property management services for residential communities like condominiums, homeowners’ associations, and more! Find out if we can help support your community by clicking here.