Apartment vs. Condo – What’s the Difference?

If you’re confused between renting a condo and an apartment, knowing the differences between them might help you make a more informed decision.

A condominium unit (also called a condo) is typically independently owned, while an apartment is owned by the company or individual who owns the apartment complex.

The rent might also differ based on the varied amenities.

Moreover, a condo might offer better or more upgraded amenities and layout.

On the other hand, an apartment unit will have the same layout as the other units in the building.

What Are Condos/Condominiums?

A condominium or condo is a private residence located in a residential community or building.

It’s rented out to individuals by a landlord who owns the condo and thus, co-owns a share of the community property.

Most people think a condo is the same as an apartment. However, the former can be a townhome, office building, or a residence in a multi-unit property.

The condo owner is the decision-maker; they approve who rents their unit. It’s more of a one-on-one process compared to renting an apartment.

That said, the landlord will typically not be on-site unless they reside in a condo in the same multi-unit building.

What Are Apartments?

Apartments are rental properties typically owned by property management companies.

They are residential units located in residential buildings, community properties, and apartment complexes.

In an apartment building, all units are built exactly the same. Moreover, there is only a singular owner, and the tenants follow a standard guideline for renting a unit in the building.

Apartments are designed as dwellings where people can reside. Every tenant in an apartment complex reports to one property manager, whom you can find in the leasing office.

They might be working with employed leasing agents hired to assist current residents and lease the empty units.

6 Differences between Apartments and Condo

Here are some other differences between a condo and an apartment:

Property Ownership

Ownership is inarguably the most pertinent difference between an apartment and a condo. Let’s look at it in detail:

Condo

Typically, every condo in a complex has a distinctive owner who usually buys the unit on loan.

All the homeowners or landlords in a condo property will be equally responsible for common areas. Moreover, they will also be individually responsible for their units.

The building might have a Homeowner’s Association to manage building fees for maintaining the spaces outside the units.

The association often works in tandem with a property management company.

More often than not, people buy condos to live in them instead of renting them out.

They often make prospective tenants undergo a rigorous screening process before renting the unit to them.

The ownership of a condo comes with varied benefits. You can personalize the unit with new décor, fitted appliances, windows, amenities, and more. Living in a condo is a top-tier option for long-term residency.

That said, even renting a condo offers its fair share of benefits.

Since each unit is owned by a different individual, you can expect a unique experience when renting a condo.

It means that even if you have a poor experience with one owner in a building, you might have a pleasant one with another owner. You don’t have to leave the complex entirely.   

Apartments

As mentioned above, apartment complexes are typically owned by a single entity. It means that each unit doesn’t have an individual landlord/owner.

Typically, apartment buildings are owned by corporations, who then lease out each unit to individual tenants.

Usually, all units in an apartment building have a standard layout and fittings.

When living in a rented apartment, you will either interact directly with the owner of the complex or with a hired management company.

If it’s the latter, they will deal with all the tenants in the complex.

Repairs & Maintenance

Whether you reside in an apartment or a condo, you are bound to face maintenance and repair issues.

It might be a dripping faucet or a broken pipe; regardless, you will need the repairs to be done quickly.

The repair and maintenance of condominiums and apartments all come down to the management of the units.

You need to know whom to approach to fix the issue swiftly to prevent further damage.

Condos

When it comes to a condo, the upkeep and repairs are the unit owner’s responsibility.

Depending on the type of owner you’re dealing with, they might respond to your call quickly or after quite a while.

Often, it’s the former since they are not managing an entire complex full of units needing small repairs.

On the flip side, they can take longer as they will have to hire an independent repair service.

If repairs are needed in common spaces inside a condominium property, the Homeowner’s Association manages the repair or maintenance needs.

If you want anything fixed in the community areas, contact the HOA, as it will have the protocols for repair needs in the common areas and shared amenities. But it will not fix the issues inside your unit.

If your condo owner is taking too long, you might have to take charge of the repairs. It means that you might incur out-of-pocket costs.

But the landlord typically covers the costs and any repair needs.

If the owner is unavailable or out of the country for a long time, they will leave a management proxy. You can reach out to them in case of emergency repairs.

Apartments

As a renter living in an apartment unit, you will likely have access to the complex community that offers free, 24/7 maintenance.

It means that you will not have to spend your money on most repairs.

If you have any maintenance or repair needs inside your unit, contact the property owner or management company.

They might respond quickly if the issue is or will impact the other units as well.

However, they might take their sweet time to respond to your repair needs. It all depends on how efficient and diligent the owner is.

If you live in a building with an on-call repair service or a dedicated maintenance staff, your needs will be addressed quickly.

On the flip side, you might have to face frustrating delays.

Moreover, depending on the upkeep rules in your building, you might have to wait for the building management to replace broken or damaged fixtures instead of changing them yourself.

It happens when the property management wants to maintain a set standard and consistent look in all the units.

It means that you will have to report minor repair issues you could have handled independently.

The third difference between condos and apartments has to be the cost you will incur by residing in them. Some people believe that a condo is more expensive than an apartment.

However, that is not necessarily true. If a condo and apartment are in the same part of the city/town, they will probably cost more or less the same.

But it also depends on the quality of the property.

If one has more amenities and is better than the other, it will have a higher price. That said, both condo landlords and apartment complex owners price their units competitively.

It means that they research the market price of similar properties in the area.

It allows them to offer a fair, highly competitive price and encourages more prospective tenants to explore their units.

With that misconception out of the way, let’s explore the potential lease, rent, and other costs involved in living in a condominium and apartment:

Condos

The overall fees tied to renting a condominium depend on the unit’s owner, which means they can vary from condo to condo in the same building.

If a condo costs significantly more than an apartment in the same area, it has more high-end amenities, appliances, and fixtures.

Moreover, condo landlords often include HOA fees and utilities in the monthly rent. It allows you to deal with fewer payments each month. The utility rate might be flat or based on usage.

Condos are also a lot less likely to be rough around the edges than apartments.

The condo owners have an incentive to invest in the unit and maintain it for increased rent and property value.

Depending on your condo owner, you might have to put down a significant security deposit and first and last month’s rent. You will also be required to pay annual or monthly HOA fees.

This amount covers the costs of maintaining the property’s shared spaces, such as patios, lobbies, swimming pools, elevators, landscaping, etc. This fee can vary based on the services you’re availing.

Another difference between renting a condo and an apartment might arise in the mode of payment. You might have to pay the landlord via a check rather than paying online.

However, it all boils down to your landlord and their preferences.

It helps to discuss everything related to fees, expenses, and modes of payment with the condo owner before moving into the unit.

Apartments

When it comes to renting an apartment, you will need to pay the standard fee.

It will include a security deposit and the first and last month’s rent. You will also need to pay a pet fee if you have a pet.

The security deposit of an apartment is typically the same as one month’s rent, meaning you will need to pay three months’ rent when signing the lease. The pet fee will vary in price.

You will also have to pay an application fee before the lease signing. It covers administrative costs associated with verifying your employment, rental history, income, etc.

This fee also covers running criminal, credit, and eviction reports that essentially establish whether you’re a suitable renter or not.

As for the rent payment method, apartment complexes typically allow renters to pay their monthly rents and utility bills online. Most properties have online portals to make transactions easier.

But you can pay via check if you prefer this mode of payment. Typically, you will need to pay the monthly utility bills not included in your rent separately to the external providers.

Layout Upgrades

Here’s how the layout of an apartment might vary from that of a condo:

Condos

A condo will have some similarities with an apartment building unit, such as having the same number of rooms, a kitchen, and a living space.

However, condos often have different interior layouts.

The layout is dependent on the owner’s taste. You might find differences in the flooring, built-in furniture, countertop materials, and even room layout.

Condos might also have more upgrades than standard apartment units. After all, owners invest in their condos to ensure a profitable sale and renting value.

Apartments

Apartment units inside a building will have the same layout. If you’re renting an apartment in an old building, you might find some variety in the layout.

But, it will surely be limited compared to the variety and upgrades offered by condos.

The design, materials, and upgrades used in apartment units are the same to maintain a standard level.

Facilities/Amenities

Standard apartments and condos have the same basic amenities. However, condos offer a lot more variety, depending on how high-end the building is and when it was constructed.

Condominiums

A high-end condominium building will offer a wide list of amenities.

These might include a swimming pool, free parking, gym, on-site laundry, community room, park, pet area, playground, and car wash.

The amenities offered by a condominium building are covered under the HOA fee, which might be the owner or tenant’s responsibility, depending on your lease agreement.

Larger condominium complexes might also offer concierge services and other high-end luxuries. The maintenance of the shared amenities falls on the shoulders of all the building residents.

As for amenities inside the condo, you might benefit from stainless steel appliances, high-end countertops, kitchen backsplashes, top-notch flooring, etc.

The amenities inside the unit and the shared amenities in condos are all well-maintained. It ensures that the property’s value remains high.

Apartments

Compared to condos, apartments don’t offer such a wide array of amenities.

Depending on your apartment complex, you might benefit from a parking spot, free maintenance, on-site laundry, etc.

You might also have access to a gym or an outdoor pool. But when it comes to amenities in an apartment building, there’s no standard that guarantees whether they are free or not.

It’s highly likely that an apartment building will not have the amenities offered by a condo complex.

Even if a building does offer varied amenities, not all of them will be well-maintained.

That said, some luxury apartment complexes offer an indoor pool, valet service, and so much more. But the rent and related costs of such units are quite high.

Moreover, regardless of how high-end it is, an apartment unit will not have any customized touches.

The fixtures you get in your unit will be standard.

So, if you want certain amenities in your unit and complex, it’s best to do your research before renting a place. Also, ask whether the amenities will be included in the rent or not.

Rental Policies & Regulations

The rental rules and policies might differ in an apartment and condo unit. Here’s how:

Condos

In a condominium, the rules and regulations for using shared spaces are determined by the Homeowner’s Association. These can be similar to the rules applied in apartment buildings.

These can include picking up pet waste, refraining from leaving personal property in the shared space, and more.

You can read up on the specifics in the HOA covenants, conditions, and restrictions or CC&Rs.

Make a copy and keep it with you to ensure you follow all the rules.

Moreover, you will also have to follow any policies or rules dictated by your landlord. These vary from landlord to landlord.

For instance, some condo unit owners will not have any problem with you keeping pets inside the unit, while others might have a no-pet policy.

Ideally, as a prospective tenant, you should go over all of our landlord’s rules before signing the lease. This way, you will know whether the unit is the perfect space for you or not.

Apartments

The property management company defines the rules and policies enforced in an apartment unit. It also handles all the complaints lodged by the residents of the building.

Each unit resident in an apartment building has to follow the same rules. But these rules can vary from building to building.

That said, some common ones include the need to have renter’s insurance, noise restrictions, and the policy of not drilling holes in walls.

Some apartment complexes also have a no-pets policy.

Regardless of the difference in rules between different apartment buildings, make sure to follow all the rules for your unit and shared spaces.

Moreover, ask the property management company to share all the policies and rules before signing the rules to make an informed decision.

Condo vs. Apartment – Which Is Better?

Now that you know about the key differences between apartments and condos, you can make an informed decision about moving into your preferred dwelling.

If you want to have direct communication with the owner of the property you rent and have more flexibility in terms of rules, maintenance, amenities, etc., it’s best to look for a condominium.

On the flip side, if you want timely maintenance, the assistance of property management agents, and a no-nonsense property at a market-competitive rate, an apartment will work best for you.

At the end of the day, you are the only one who can make the right choice between an apartment and a condominium and declare which one is a better fit for your specific needs.

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