The Difference Between Renting from an Individual Landlord and a Property Management Firm
When a tenant is trying to decide between renting a home that’s managed by a property management firm, or dealing directly with the individual owner, there are some things to think about. The type of landlord chosen may make a big difference in the renting experience. According to Marcia Stewart here are some issues that are often considered by tenants:
- An individual landlord who handles all the property management work may not always be available when the tenant locks themselves out at 2 a.m. or has a weekend plumbing emergency, while a property management firm may sometimes provide round-the-clock service. On the other hand, an individual landlord who lives nearby and has only one or two rentals, may provide more personal (and faster) service than a larger firm.
- Professional property management firms may be, well, more professional than landlords when it comes to handling repairs and maintenance; some individual landlords may be less willing to spend their time and money on repairs if costs are coming directly out of their pockets.
- A professional property management firm may be a stickler for rules and procedures, such as doing move-in inspections and re-keying of locks with every new tenant; less emotionally involved than an individual landlord/owner; and more rational at arriving at business-like compromises. An individual landlord, on the other hand, may be more flexible and responsive to your particular needs and interests (such as having a cat, as opposed to enforcing a strict no-pets policy, or adding a roommate); on the other hand, this individual attention may sometimes be more intrusive than desirable.
Most tenants check out a few different landlords and property management firms before making a decision.
Talk to Current Tenants
Ask current tenants (if at all possible) about their interactions with the landlord or property management firm. You’ll want to know how quickly repairs were made, whether the landlord ever entered their rental unit without permission, and in general whether the tenants were satisfied with the relationship. One good indicator of whether you can expect smooth sailing is to find out how often there are vacancies in the building. A low rate of turnover suggests that tenants like living there (and that the landlord has chosen considerate, law-abiding renters who will be good neighbors).
Check Out Online Reviews of Landlords and Property Managers
One comprehensive website, www.apartmentratings.com, has over one million reviews of individual apartment and property managers nationwide. Also, see CheckYourLandlord.com where you can obtain information about individual properties. Yelp may be another good source, particularly on large property management firms. And you may find other useful information just by doing a Google search on the landlord or property management firm.
Tenants don’t need their landlord or property manager to be their friend. But what they should expect is prompt service handling repairs and other problems (such as noisy neighbors) reasonable rent increases (if necessary); no hassles regarding return of security deposits; respect for privacy and other tenant rights; and honest and clear communication.