Hey all you renters, landlords and property owners out there. This week on the rant, we’re turning once again to you, our readers, specifically one reader by the name of Amanda, who recently moved into a rental house for the first time instead of a condo or an apartment. In doing so, she discovered a whole host of new responsibilities that go along with a larger property. She wanted to share her experience, so she wrote to us, wondering if we could help her help all you other apartment and condo renters out there who are thinking of taking the big leap. Here’s what she had to say:
Home Maintenance: House vs. Apartment Living
The difference between renting a house and renting an apartment is more than just having your own yard and some additional space between you and your neighbor. While those two benefits of renting a single-family detached house are quite appealing, they come along with some increased maintenance responsibilities that apartment residents do not have. You should carefully consider the pros and cons of each before choosing which one is right for you.
Tending to the Landscape
All of that additional space requires upkeep by someone. It is usually the responsibility of the renter to cut the grass, trim bushes, and weed the flower bed. Sure, you won’t have property landscapers gearing up their noisy equipment outside your apartment bedroom window at the crack of dawn anymore, but now the yard management is in your hands. Having your own back yard is great, but it is going to have additional cost. During the summer months, you will have to devote a few hours each week to care and maintain the landscape whether that involves pruning up plants, trimming the grass, or simply raking and cleaning off the gravel. If this is an enjoyable hobby for you, great. If not, you may find yourself spending more time complaining about the responsibilities of a large yard than you do enjoying the benefits. And if your home is in an area with HOA regulations, you’ll definitely have to take extra care to ensure your property is looking pristine in order to avoid any fees.
Apartments often have common park areas, playgrounds, and walking trails. Community garden areas are becoming more common. These are maintained by the apartment management and the cost is part of your regular rent payment. You are able to enjoy them without having to expel any energy maintaining them. When it comes to inviting over a large group of friends for a backyard cookout and some volleyball or horseshoes, an apartment cannot compete with having your own outdoor space with plenty of parking for everyone. How often you host such activities should be weighed against how many hours you want to spend maintaining the yard.
For Some, It’s All About the View
Apartment residents typically have walls that back up to their neighbor’s living area. This results in windows on just one side of each unit. The developers take this into consideration and strive to make each unit have access to ample natural light. Still, some units will have a view of the park and some will look out on the trash bins. Heck, some will only have a view to the side of another apartment building. The good news is that apartment dwellers have fewer windows to clean and less heat loss through those windows than people living in a house.
Many rental houses are older and do not have thermal pane windows. In addition to the time spent cleaning windows, home renters can expect higher energy bills. About 56 percent of a households energy usage goes to maintain a comfortable inside temperature, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. And although the cost may be a bit more than apartment dwellers, the views and windows in majority of rooms is a huge perk to make it worth the extra cost.
The Household Handyman
For those renting out older houses, keep in mind that there may be more maintenance to perform that can’t be fixed with a simple work request to the property handymen. These older homes can have older wiring and plumbing that will need your attention at some point or another. They may not have the lines needed for cable and high-speed internet and it could cost an extra fee in order to install outlets that are adaptable with current times. Meanwhile, most apartment complexes have easy access to the latest technology and some even include free internet or cable in the rent.
Requirements for multi-family buildings are often much stricter than the standards for landlords of single-family houses. If you rent a house, you may be responsible for any utility issues that may occur. But depending on your rental agreement, with landlord approval you can make renovations as needed to help you cut costs in the home. Easy upgrades around the home like smart thermostats or tankless water heaters can cut energy costs by 40% for a home, making home utility costs near those of living in an apartment. Most apartment complexes have full-time maintenance staff on call to correct even minor problems. When renting a house, you may be responsible for the additional water usage of a leaky pipe or dripping faucet, in addition to the cost to repair the problem.
Before signing a lease for an apartment or house, make sure you understand what maintenance issues are covered by the landlord and which issues are your sole responsibility. Simple things like trash collection are taken for granted by residents of apartments. People renting houses need to know who will remove leaves and yard waste and they’ll have to be responsible for putting out their own trash. Apartments are often owned by corporations and managed by companies while houses are frequently rented by individual owners under a property network. Be sure you know what your rights are as a tenant and ensure you read over all your responsibilities upon signing your new lease. If you’re ready to take on the extra responsibilities of renting out a house, then sign on the dotted line, but if you’re still not ready or find that you don’t have the time for the extra maintenance that will be needed, perhaps apartment living is just right for you.
Whew, thanks Amanda. It’s a lot of information to take in, but definitely worth a read if you’re a renter considering moving into a house, or if you’re a landlord or property owner who wants to tell potential tenants what the differences between houses and condos or apartments might be.
Do you have rental questions of your own? Comments? Concerns? Love letters? Hate mail? Get at us: Hometownrant@hometownrent.com