Renting from private parties (vs. property management companies)
What if your dream apartment belongs to an individual instead of a company? How does the procedure differ from renting from an individual as opposed to renting from a company? It’s a compromise: give the 24/7 maintenance, the workout room, and the community gathering spaces for a more personable, friendly, and flexible process.
Flexibility is the main benefit. Working one-on-one allows you to develop a relationship with the landlord and the option to negotiate the policies or whatever situation you might find yourself in. Whether it’s pet related or rent payment date, individual landlords might be willing to work with you. It may also save you money in some places: since you can negotiate, you may do so with the rent amount, or work out some trade situation.
Since they own the property, they have vested interest in the property’s condition, thus he may allow you to improve the living space, indoor or outdoor, for a discount on rent. If the two of you get along well, he will want to keep you as a tenant for as long as possible and probably enable you the possibility to avoid rent increases at renewal or even get a discount for signing a longer term contract.
Of course, there are also risks and many of them are unknown as every experience will vary, depending on who you are renting from and the terms you have agreed upon. A great risk is visible when you don’t have a contract/lease in your renting transaction. If the landlord doesn’t insist on having one, be very careful, investigate. It is as much in your protection as it is in his.
Make sure that the landlord actually owns the apartment as he might be renting it, in which case, check to make sure he has the right to sublet. And as in any case, sign a contract that you know you can follow through – contracts work the same with individuals as they do with companies.
Questions for the landlord:
- What is the monthly rate? What utilities will you be paying for and how much?
- How much is the deposit, if there is any?
- What are your responsibilities?
- What amenities are available to you – WiFi, laundry facility, maintenance?
- How will the two of you manage situation in case of emergencies or if something breaks, are there any emergency expenses?
- How long will the space be available to you?
- Are they planning on selling the property?
- Is he the owner of the property?
- Are there any personal policies – noise or visitors related?
- Are you the first renter or has someone else leased the apartment before you? – you might be able to find out more about the location, or about doing business with the landlord.
- How much will the landlord be involved in your life? Will you see them every day or will they give you privacy?
- What situations will make the landlord require access to your apartment?
- Ask for a copy of the contract to take home and read it fully before signing it.
At all times make sure everything is clearly written down. Be aware of your move-in and move-out responsibilities. Don’t just look at the place, but try it out: operate the cabinets, test the faucets, flip the switches, turn on the air conditioner and heater; mainly check the little details to be functional. Of course, make sure any broken things are replaced or fixed before you sign the contract. Additionally, document the space: take pictures, write details, and have the landlord sign it. To make sure you really did your homework, research tenant rights in your area.
Regardless if you rent from a company or an individual, renter’s insurance should always be part of your plans. Remember the great benefits such a small amount of money will bring.