The Difference Between Renting A Condo Vs An Apartment

The PropertyClub Team
Jul 26th 2020
While the main differences between condos and apartments are related to ownership and regulations, there are numerous other things you should know before renting. Here's what you need to know from how repairs and maintenance are dealt with to how you pay rent.

When people think of condominiums versus apartments, there’s usually very little difference to them. You own one, you rent the other, right? Well, not always. Though it’s a bit rarer, it is possible to rent out a condo. So, what’s the difference between a condo and an apartment rental? Believe it or not, there are some pretty significant differences between the two—both in terms of layout as well as the dynamics of your rental. If you’re wondering what the deal is, this guide will enlighten you.  

Condos Vs. Apartments: Key Differences Between Them

The majority of differences that deal between condos and apartments happen to deal with how ownership and how they’re run. Essentially, when you rent a condo, you’re renting from the owner, while when you rent an apartment, you’re renting from a larger landlord who owns the complex.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Apartments are all owned by a single landlord, who’s in charge of maintenance and repairs. Condos are owned by individual people who can act as landlords. With a condo, your landlord answers to a Homeowner’s Association that mandates living standards. Your property owner will differ from the person next door’s.
  • Apartments can be fairly different when it comes to layouts, while condos tend to be more uniform. This isn’t always the case, but it’s a common enough trend to make it noteworthy. In many prefab condo communities, each condominium will have the same number of rooms and square footage. Apartments, however, can be more varied in sizes.
  • Apartments have uniform rules that are set by a property management company, while condos can have unique rules alongside regulations set by the HOA. When it comes to apartments, everyone has the same rules. Condo rentals are a bit different. HOAs set a bunch of general guidelines, but there are others that you might have to follow. Since your landlord is unique, you might have additional rules that you’re bound to.
  • Apartments don’t have HOA fees, while condos do. Both apartments and condos will probably expect you to cover utilities. Both also will have property taxes included in your monthly rent bill. Condos, however, can have an additional bill tacked onto your bottom line, and that’s an HOA bill. 
  • Apartments are the more common type of housing to rent. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since many condo communities bar owners from renting their condos out to others. Besides, apartments are basically synonymous with renting. 

Which Has Better Amenities: Condos Or Apartments?

When it comes to amenities, things can be pretty evenly split—especially if you’re discussing the options that you have in a large city like New York City. Both condos and apartments will have similar amenities like parking, doormen, and laundry facilities. One difference you’ll find in big cities is that uber-luxury condos tend to outdo even the most luxurious apartment buildings with amenities like golf simulators, indoor pools, bowling alleys, and more. 

The more significant differences with amenities come with interior design. Condos tend to be somewhat more luxurious, with more beautiful interiors.

Which Is More Restrictive: Condos Or Apartments?

Both condos and apartments can have very similar rules. Apartments, though, will have the exact same rules for all tenants regardless of which door they’re renting. When you’re dealing with condos, you have to deal with HOA rules as well as your landlord’s personal rules.

Generally speaking, renting a condo tends to be the more likely candidate for being restrictive. This is just because your landlord can offer additional requests alongside the general guidelines sent out by the HOA. How restrictive your condo landlord will be will hinge on their personality as well as your rental contract. 

Which Is More Regulated: Condos Or Apartments?

Now, it’s clear that condos are more likely to have more rules than apartments, but that’s only half the story. The truth is that there are other ways that a rental agreement can be regulated, and what we mean by that is tenants’ rights. 

When it comes to both condos and apartment rentals, local laws tend to view them the same way. As long as there is a rental agreement that’s signed by both parties, you have the same rights as you would if you rented an apartment. 

Who Are You Paying: Condos Vs. Apartments?

Apartments are typically not one-off rentals; there are usually at least three to four units managed by a group of people. Unless you are dealing with a multi-family unit owned by a single landlord, chances are high that you will be paying rent to a property management company if you’re renting an apartment.

Condominiums, on the other hand, are explicitly owned by an individual. Knowing that you can expect to send your rent checks directly to the person who owns the property, rather than an LLC. With that said, some landlords will use an LLC for their rent collection regardless of whether they own a condo or apartment building.

How Do You Pay Your Rent: Condos Vs. Apartments?

For the most part, paying rent is going to be done the same way with both situations. Most apartments and condo rentals require tenants to pay their month’s rent via check or money order. Some places will allow you to mail it to a location, while others may ask for an in-person handoff. 

With larger apartment complexes, it may be possible to pay your rent via an app. If your condo’s landlord is trustworthy, they may also allow you to pay in cash in exchange for a receipt. With apartments, that’s almost entirely unheard of. 

However, these unusual payment methods are more of an exception rather than the rule. So, it’s generally just safe to say that you’ll be writing out a check. 

Who’s In Charge Of Maintenance: Condo Vs. Apartments?

This is a huge perk that comes with renting an apartment. With apartment renting, the management company will be in charge of repairs and maintenance. With condos, it’s going to be either you or your landlord, and your landlord might try to push the maintenance work on you.

Getting repairs with a condo rental can be a pain, too. Since it’s not kept up by a maintenance company, you may need to wait for hours or even days to get a reply. At times, you may also need to pay out-of-pocket charges for the repairs that need to be done. This alone can be a huge detractor for most would-be renters. 

With condo rentals, the onus of maintenance and repairs is a lot more legal “grey area” than with apartments.  So, if you’re wondering about repairs and maintenance, it’s a good idea to get terms in writing before you agree to any kind of condo rental contract.

Which Is Better, Renting A Condo Or An Apartment?

Honestly, they both are pretty much the same—at least when it comes to the quality of life you get. Each apartment and condo will have its own perks and pitfalls that will make it better (or worse) suited for your unique lifestyle. So, like with most things in the real estate world, it’s smarter to try to work things out on a case by case basis.

The only real difference that can be noted for condos is the way that their regulations, fees, and rental arrangements are set up. Since they are run by HOAs and owned by individual homeowners, you will have a unique set of rules and protocols that you alone will need to follow...alongside whatever the local HOA tells you to do.