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What to Rent: Condo vs. Apartment

by Cristina Oprean
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4 min. read

If you’re looking to rent, you may be struggling to choose between apartments and condos. At first glance, they seem more or less the same. But delve a little deeper, and you’ll find many differences. Let’s take a closer look and figure out which is the best option for you.

Differences Between Condos and Apartments

Both apartments and condos are individual residential units within a larger building containing several other similar units. They can be within tower blocks or smaller buildings, with or without amenities such as a swimming pool or doorman. But despite these similarities, there are several differences worth knowing.

1.     Ownership

Ownership is by far the most significant difference between condos and apartments. In an apartment complex, all units are owned by one person, whereas in a condo building, each individual unit has a different owner.

2.     Management

Apartment building owners generally work with a management company to deal with tenants, maintenance, and other tasks. A condo building is usually managed by a homeowners association (HOA), which sets the rules and takes care of shared spaces. When renting a condo, you deal with your landlord, the owner of the unit, rather than a management company.

3.     Maintenance and Repairs

While renting an apartment, if something goes wrong, you can generally contact the management company 24/7, and they will take care of the issue. In a condo, however, you’ll need to get in touch with your landlord, who might not always be available. In case of any urgent repairs that surface, you might have to pay the bill yourself and recover the money afterward. It’s best to agree on such scenarios in advance.

4.     Rules

In a condo, the HOA will set the ground rules that owners and tenants must adhere to regarding common spaces and outside decoration. Within the condo unit, the owner may impose additional restrictions, such as no pet policies, for instance. Apartments also come with rules, though these tend to be stricter with no room for negotiation. In either case, be sure to check the lease agreement thoroughly before you sign.

5.     Costs and Fees

In a condo, the unit owner is solely responsible for setting the rent. This means that tenants in the same building, in similar units, often pay different rents. In addition, the rent will typically also include the HOA fee and the utilities. You’ll basically be paying a flat fee throughout the year and won’t have to worry about seasonal fluctuations. With these fees added to the rent, condos are often considered more expensive, but it isn’t always the case.

When renting an apartment, utilities are often billed separately, while maintenance and repair costs are typically rolled into your rent, in addition to the upkeep of any shared amenities.

Condo or Apartment? Which Is the Right Choice for Me?

To answer this question, it’s worth looking at the major advantages of both options.

Condo Pros:

  • Great condition and amenities: Condos owners tend to put more personal touches into their units and may install upgrades to improve their chances of finding a tenant. Plus, there’s a chance that the owner previously lived in the unit, so it’s more likely to be in good condition. Apartment owners may be more likely to cut corners on these things.
  • More room for negotiation: Not all condo owners are looking to make a profit from their tenants. Some simply want to cover their costs and ensure the unit is lived in and looked after. As such, you may find more room to negotiate on price, pet policies and renovation requests.

Apartment Pros:

  • Experienced management: With a professional management company, many things are streamlined, such as trash collection, online rent payments, repairs, complaints and maintenance requests. They are often available round the clock to take care of issues as and when they arise.

In general, if you prefer the peace of mind of not having to worry about dealing with maintenance and repairs and don’t mind having any say in what appliances and amenities you have installed, an apartment is a good choice.

Meanwhile, a condo may be the better option if you’d prefer a more personal relationship with your landlord and the potential flexibility that might come with that. The flip side is that in case of repairs and maintenance, things don’t always run as smoothly as they might with an apartment.

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