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Used to renting from a management company - can anyone advise questions and issues to be aware of when renting directly from n owner?
Talk directly to as many of the private owner's tenants as possible. Generally speaking, you're going to be better off with a private owner (more direct access, more responsive to problems in HIS building), but like anything else, if you get a bad apple it'll be an ugly experience.
Also be aware that owner-occupants can be tricky landlords.
When we were renting, we saw an English basement apartment with a private entrance that we really liked. But the owner/landlord told us that she was not renewing the current tenants' lease for a number of reasons that seemed fairly minor to us. E.g., they hadn't locked the steel security door in front of the glass door, they didn't sweep the steps down into their entrance, they had left a rear window open during the day, the water bill was insane..... Also she would have to come into the apartment on occasion during the day in the winter months to drain the boiler. We're very clean, responsible, security-conscious people, but this sounded like we'd be living with a spy upstairs.
In another place, we saw an apartment in a building where the owners live in one unit and rent out the rest. The guy is a "Mr. Fix It" type. To the naked eye, everything looked OK. But when we started poking around, the hot and cold water were reversed, the faucets turned every which way, the electrical seemed jerry-rigged, and there was some odd and probably illegal situation going on with the cable and internet. It just so happened that while we were there a torrential rain started, and water started coming in through a skylight. We were out the door faster than you could blink.
I actually disagree with Matt and think you're generally likely to be better with a management company if you want to remain "anonymous" as a tenant.
If you rent from an owner, you run the risk they want to sell at the end of your lease (happened in my last apartment and we ended up moving out before we had really wanted to). That said, owner was super friendly, good to negotiate with (shared cost of some improvements to apartment), reasonable on renewal price increases, etc.
"In another place, we saw an apartment in a building where the owners live in one unit and rent out the rest. The guy is a "Mr. Fix It" type. To the naked eye, everything looked OK. But when we started poking around, the hot and cold water were reversed, the faucets turned every which way, the electrical seemed jerry-rigged, and there was some odd and probably illegal situation going on with the cable and internet. It just so happened that while we were there a torrential rain started, and water started coming in through a skylight. We were out the door faster than you could blink."
Oh gawd. BTDT.
One of my old landlords was convinced he could do a better job fixing things than real fix-it guys. And as the tenant, even if I was willing to pay for repairs on my own, legally could not pay someone to do work on HIS building without his authorization. So I was always stuck with his half-assed "repairs".
Totally depends on the situation. When I first moved to NY, I rented from a private owner who was amazing. The first night I was there, a fuse went out (entire apartment was on a single fuse and I had a powerful window AC unit). I had heard stories about NYC LLs so I was afraid to call him at 1:00 in the morning. So I just went to bed (it was August and 90 degrees). When I got up the next morning, I called him and told him what happened. He actually yelled at me for not calling at 1:00am. After this happened about 3 more times, he finally said "If this happens again, I'm getting an electrician out here and am going to re-wire the whole place". Sure enough, he did - he split the apartment into 4 zones. After my 1 year lease was up, he didn't raise my rent (even though the market had gone up) and didn't have me sign another lease - he said to keep paying him he same rent.
On the other hand, I have heard stories of people renting from private owners who have water leaks and can't get heat at the right time - and these are in nice apartments.
Bottom line is it totally depends on your LL. With management companies, it is easy to do some research and find out their reputation (for example, Related Rentals is known as being a top notch landlord and their buildings are run great).
There are management companies who are owners who own multiple buildings and operate them out of their management companies.
There are owners who might one one condo unit
There are 3rd party management companies who run condo units
There are 3rd party management companies who run buildings for dozens or hundreds of owners.
Let's define who we are talking about before you ask a question that will be interpreted many different ways. That way, we can all know who we are making gross generalizations about...
and btw, Related are a bunch of corporate crooks. I have seen it from the business side and from being a former tenant of theirs
from my experience, it is much easier to deal with management companies. you call them, you send them an email to their private servers (not gmail or hotmail). you call them again and send a follow up email. they don't respond, you hire your own contractor and have the work done, then take it out of the rent.
you call the private owner and send email. a week later, you do the same. two weeks later, again. the jackass forgets as soon as he hears your voicemail and hasn't opened that yahoo account in months.
i've had great owner landlords, but am extremely gun shy now. current LL is a director in fincial co and i thought it would be great. ended up to be the biggest cheapskate and the worst LL in the world in terms of doing repairs.
it really depends on the situation. like prev posts said, management co you can search for their reputation. individual landlord, especially folks who are money tight, you can be sure it won't smooth sailing especially in an older building. in a new building, maybe you'll be fine.
I'm reviving this thread that I found while looking for discussions that cover my situation.
It's weirdly reassuring to learn that there are enough others with the same type landlord to make it a "type".
We rent a condo from the owner, who hasn't actually lived in the unit for 10 years.
Like some of you earlier commentors, this guy's place has leaks, jerry-rigged electric and so on. His main responses to everything are "the previous tenants never complained" , "there hasn't been a leak since I bought the place in 1985" and so on.
He never had it move-in cleaned (the previous tenants used a weekly service) and it was dirrrrty
The condo building was due to be re-waterproofed and have all windows replaced (there were obvious cracks and signs of leaks on the bedroom ceiling and the windows were fogged and the seals looked pretty iffy.
That was due to be done "soon". Besides, those leaks were from "last year's hurricane" and "that was the only time it happened.
After moving in, we discovered that half the windows were inoperable. They'd either not open or wouldn't stay open.
One crashed down and broke my finger.
That was in May. Still not fixed.
We have had at least 3 indoor rainstorms since then as well and have seen water puddles growing out from the built-in ratiator covers, presumably from the shot window seals.
It smells, it's filthy under there, threre's lots of dirt, mold, debris , rusted and corroded radiators and more under those things.
We have been trying to get the guy to take care of a mold and mildew situation and he keeps saying "it will dry out" and/or the two stock answers. This stuff hasn't improved in the 5 months I've been trying to get it dealt with.
It's a drag because this is a nice place and we just keep finding how poorly maintained it is.
I don't even know whether I have a question or a point. Guess I just wanted to comiserate.
If you actually read this, thanks for letting me vent.