Is it better to rent a condo or an apartment?

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Dot2.

If you’re looking to rent, you may be struggling to decide between apartments and condos. At first glance, they seem more or less identical.

But dig a little deeper and you will find many differences. Let’s take a closer look and figure out which is the best option for you.

Apartments and condos are individual residential units within a larger building containing several other similar units. They may be in towers or smaller buildings, with or without amenities such as a swimming pool or doorman.

Despite these similarities, several differences are worth knowing. Here are the big ones.

1. Ownership

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

2. Management

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Apartment building owners typically work with a management company to take care of tenants, maintenance, and other duties. A condominium building is usually managed by a homeowners association (HOA), which sets the rules and takes care of the shared spaces.

When renting a condo, you are dealing with your ownerthe unit owner, rather than a management company.

3. Maintenance and repairs

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Whereas rent an apartment, if there is a problem, you can usually contact the management company 24/7, and they will take care of the problem. If you are renting a condo, however, you will need to contact your landlord, who may not always be available.

In case of urgent repairs, you may have to pay the bill yourself and get the money back afterwards. It is best to agree on such scenarios in advance.

4. Rules

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In a condo, the HOA will set the ground rules that landlords and tenants must follow regarding common areas and exterior decor. Inside the condominium unit, the owner may impose additional restrictions, such as prohibiting animals policies, for example.

Apartments are also subject to rules, although these tend to be stricter with no room for negotiation. In either case, be sure to check the rental agreement carefully before signing it.

5. Costs and charges

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In a condo, the owner of the unit 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 usually also include HOA fees and utilities. You will essentially pay a fixed fee throughout the year and you won’t have to worry about seasonal fluctuations. With these fees added to the rent, condos are often considered more expensive, but this is not always the case.

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

Advantages of co-ownership

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Condo or apartment? What is the right choice for me? To answer this question, it is worth considering the main advantages of both options. Here’s what’s good about condos:

  • Very good condition and amenities: Condo owners tend to add a more personal touch to their units and may install upgrades to improve their chances of finding a tenant. Also, the owner may have lived in the unit before, so it’s more likely to be in good condition. Apartment owners may be more likely to save money on these things.
  • More room for negotiation: Not all co-owners seek to profit from their tenants. Some just want to cover their costs and make sure the unit is manned and maintained. As such, you may find more room for negotiation on the price, pet policies and renovation requests.

Benefits of the apartment

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Here’s what’s good about apartments:

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

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

In the meantime, a condo may be the best option if you prefer a more personal relationship with your landlord and the potential flexibility that could come with that. The other side of the coin is that when it comes to repairs and maintenance, things don’t always go as smoothly as with an apartment.

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