According to a National Multi-Housing Council 2012 survey, approximately 35 percent of households in the U.S. are renters. Reasons for renting vs. buying are quite varied. Many people move into the community for a job and need a year or two to learn the area to see where they want to purchase. Others move for school or residency, and are not sure if they will stay once that assignment is completed. Other reasons include not yet being able to qualify to buy a home, a general desire for flexibility, marriage, divorce, or lack of supply of homes to buy. The point is, many people have to rent, and they are always looking for good-quality housing that is convenient and affordable.
In our community, many different property types are available to the renter, including apartment complexes; “apartment-style” condominiums; town homes, which are typically a part of an HOA or a condo association; and semi-detached and freestanding homes, which are not part of a homeowner association. We will elaborate more on these below.
Apartments: Most people are familiar with renting an apartment. Maintenance, lawn care, and snow removal are typically provided by the complex. Rent increases are market-driven, and can be tied in to the occupancy level of the building. Amenities can vary significantly, with in-unit washer/dryer, dishwasher, central air, and easy parking being very popular features in this area. It’s important to remember that the main goal of any complex is retaining its current residents yet keeping rents at market levels. Apartment buildings are either owner-managed, or outsource their management to a third party.
Condos: Condominiums are privately-owned housing units that are part of an association. Condominiums can be garden-style walk-ups, high-rise elevator buildings, or town homes. Doormen, security, and assigned parking are what make living in a condominium desirable to some tenants. Renting a condo means entering into a contract with a private landlord but also, implicitly, or sometimes explicitly, agreeing to follow the rules of the association. It is therefore imperative that the landlord explain to the tenant the building’s rules that will directly affect the tenant’s stay there.
Before renting their condo out, landlords need to know whether their development even allows tenants; requires that the tenant be approved by the condo board; or requires that the lease be approved. Some properties require an initial lease term of one year or more and renters’ insurance. Rents are always negotiated directly between the landlord and the tenant, without input from the association or the management company. Tenants do have to be cognizant of the fact that, depending on the problem/repairs needed to the unit, the building management may be involved, and not just the landlord. In fact, some repairs (such as common area damage, or if the issue originated in another unit and spread) are not even up to landlords to repair on their own, so extra patience may be required. Even though the association is typically managed by a condo management company, landlords can hire a different management company to rent or manage their unit.
Semi-detached and freestanding homes: Many people prefer these types of properties, as they usually offer the greatest amount of space and the most privacy. Amenities, layouts, and square footage of the homes and the lots vary widely, as do the rents, which are also very much location-driven, and can be affected by the season. Garages in the area are very rare, but some homes do come with a driveway or a carport. Tenants usually have to provide their own lawn care and snow removal, and sometimes even gutter cleaning. While some property owners self-manage their property, others outsource management or, at the very least, the process of finding a tenant to a management company or a real estate agent.
To conclude, when renting a property, tenants should explore all of the available rental housing options to make sure they find the best fit for themselves and their families.
Highline Management, LLC, has been assisting owners and tenants with their rental needs in Upper Park Heights, Greenspring, Pikesville, and beyond since 2008. Please call us at 410-979-1234 to inquire about our services, or if you are looking for a property to rent.