How to Find Private Landlords

Apr 14th 2024
Renting from a private landlord offers a unique experience, potentially more flexibility, and can be easier on the wallet. But where do you even start looking? This guide will unveil the secrets to finding private landlord rentals.

hash-markWhat Is a Private Landlord?

A private landlord is an individual or entity who owns residential or commercial property and rents it out to tenants for a fee. Unlike corporate landlords or property management companies, private landlords typically manage fewer properties and may personally handle tasks such as leasing, maintenance, and rent collection. 

Private landlords may own a single property or multiple properties, and they operate independently rather than as part of a larger organization.

hash-markPros & Cons of Private Landlords

Private Landlords Pros

  1. Potentially Lower Rent
  2. More Flexibility
  3. More Personal Touch
  4. Unique Properties
  5. Simpler Application Process

1. Potentially Lower Rent

You might find more affordable options compared to rentals managed by companies. Property management fees can get factored into rent prices.

2. More Flexibility 

Private landlords may be open to negotiating lease terms, customizations, or allowing pets (subject to their approval).

3. More Personal Touch

Dealing directly with the owner can foster a more personal relationship and potentially lead to quicker solutions for repairs or issues.

4. Unique Properties

Private landlords often own single-family homes or smaller buildings, offering a chance to rent a more unique space compared to cookie-cutter apartments.

5. Simpler Application Process

Some private landlords might have a less stringent application process compared to larger companies.

Private Landlords Cons

  1. Uncertain Responsiveness
  2. Inconsistent Management
  3. Unpredictable Turnover
  4. Fewer Amenities
  5. Limited Protection

1. Uncertain Responsiveness

You might encounter landlords who are slow to respond to maintenance requests or inquiries, impacting the quality of your living experience.

2. Inconsistent Management

Private landlords may lack the experience or resources of professional property management companies in handling repairs or legal matters.

3. Unpredictable Turnover

There's a chance the landlord might decide to sell the property, requiring you to find a new place.

4. Fewer Amenities

Private rentals are less likely to offer amenities like gyms, pools, or on-site maintenance staff compared to larger apartment buildings.

5. Limited Protection

Some private landlords might be less familiar with tenant rights and fair housing laws, potentially putting you at risk.

hash-markHow to Find Private Landlords?

1. Search Rental Sites

Many popular rental listing sites, like Zillow, Trulia, HotPads, or Apartment List, allow filtering for properties listed by owners. This is a great way to search for private landlords.

2. Use Dedicated Platforms

Websites like OpenRent or ByOwner cater specifically to rentals directly from landlords.

3. Try Facebook Marketplace

The property rentals section offers listings from both landlords and renters. You can also join local Facebook groups focused on housing to find private rentals.

4. Keep an Eye Out for “For Rent” Signs

Keep an eye out for handwritten signs in yards or windows in your desired neighborhoods. These often indicate private landlords.

5. Word-of-Mouth

Another way to find private landlords is via word-of-mouth. Talk to friends, colleagues, or people in your community who might know of upcoming vacancies or have connections to private landlords.

6. Check Local Businesses

Small businesses in your target area might have bulletin boards where residents advertise rentals, including private landlords.

7. Search on Craigslist

While Craigslist can be a good resource, be extra cautious of scams. Be wary of listings with suspiciously low rent or requests for money upfront. Never send money without viewing the property in person.

hash-markWhat to Look for in a Private Landlord?

  • Responsiveness: Look for a landlord who communicates clearly and promptly during the initial stages. This indicates how they might handle future issues and repairs.

  • Professionalism: A well-organized landlord with a written lease agreement and clear expectations is a good sign.

  • Maintenance history: Ask about the property's upkeep and inquire if they have a history of addressing maintenance requests promptly.

  • References (optional): If possible, request references from previous tenants to get a sense of the landlord's management style.

  • Availability: Consider how involved you want your landlord to be. Some offer more hands-off management, while others might be readily available for issues.

  • Red flags: Be wary of landlords who seem pushy, avoid answering questions, or offer vague terms in the lease agreement.

hash-markIs It Cheaper To Rent Privately?

It depends. Private rentals can be cheaper, especially if you avoid property management fees. However, consider factors like location, amenities, and potential for negotiation. Researching both private listings and managed properties in your area will give you the best picture of what's more affordable.

hash-markBeing a Private Landlord vs. Using a Property Management Company

Being a landlord offers more control and potentially higher profits, but requires significant time investment for finding tenants, repairs, and maintenance. Property management companies handle all the hassle for a fee, but you sacrifice some control and might see lower returns.

hash-markThe Future of Private Landlords in the Rental Market

The future of private landlords likely involves adaptation. Technology might streamline management, while institutional investors may increase competition in some areas. However, private landlords catering to specific niches or offering personalized experiences could continue to thrive.