Should You Rent from a Landlord or a Management Company?

Moving into a new apartment can be an exciting change, but dealing with a new landlord and getting used to how they communicate and attend to repairs can be an experience that needs adjusting. Many people can recount horror stories of renting apartments from unresponsive or uncaring landlords and living longer than necessary in poor apartment conditions. Some might think that renting from a management company instead – a multi-person business devoted to maintaining apartments – might solve those pesky landlord woes. After all, aren’t these companies specialized at handling all apartment matters?

Choosing between a landlord or management company, though, isn’t quite that simple. Some renters telling those horror stories might be using the term “landlord” synonymously with “property manager” – neither renting option guarantees proper, timely attention to your concerns. Plus, management companies are often hired by landlords to take the work of tending to tenant concerns off their hands. If you’re stuck on whether to trust a landlord or management company, consider the following pros and cons.

Pros of renting from a landlord instead of a management company 

More bargaining power

If you rent from a landlord instead of a management company, you might have an easier time negotiating your rent. Trying to keep rent low when you sign the lease for your first year in the apartment will be challenging – the landlord has listed the apartment at the requested price for a reason – but if you choose to renew your lease, you might have an easier time negotiating rent with a landlord than with a management company.

More direct relationship

Management companies are businesses with many clients, so getting their immediate, thorough attention and forming a personal relationship with them can be challenging. When you rent from a landlord, though, you might begin to form a friendly relationship as you discuss maintenance needs, bill payments, and more. And since you have fewer bureaucratic hurdles to clear when dealing with a landlord who owns a small number of properties instead of a management company responsible for many apartments, any repairs you need might get done more quickly.

Pros of renting from a management company instead of a landlord 

Potential 24/7 service

Landlords are human beings with sleep and work schedules, so they might not always be available when you need them. Some management companies, however, have staff available at any time. If your ceiling begins leaking or your air conditioning cuts out, you might not have to wait a day or two to get help if you rent from a management company.

Better repairs

Just because landlords might be more attentive and quick at attending to maintenance requests doesn’t mean they’re doing them well. Some landlords may try to fix all problems on their own or take the least expensive route toward providing fixes since it’s their own money that goes into repairs. In these cases, your repairs might not be up to snuff, but management companies have the infrastructure and relationships to ensure that all repairs are done professionally.

Each case is different

Landlords aren’t necessarily better or worse to rent from than management companies. It’s important to consider all landlords and management companies on a case-by-case basis. Do you know people who have rented from them? How was their experience? What do internet reviews say? 

The most powerful thing you can do, though, is talk to current tenants about their experiences with the landlord or management company. No matter how much you debate the pros and cons of landlords versus management companies, current tenant experience with either is the most important factor to consider. There are good and bad landlords just as there are good and bad management companies – gather the evidence and make a smart decision.

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