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Should You Rent From a Private Landlord?

If you’re looking for a rental home or apartment, you may come across several different types of rentals. Some may be managed by a large property management company, while others may be listed by a private landlord or “for rent by owner.” But what’s the difference between the two? Read along as we review the differences between private landlords and property managers and how to decide who you should rent from. 

Contents of This Article: 

What Is a Private Landlord?

A private landlord is an individual who owns rental properties and manages them independently instead of with a management company. Usually, renting an apartment involves working with a property manager or property management company in Northern Virginia

However, private landlords handle all aspects of the rental process, from advertising properties, screening tenants, collecting payments, performing maintenance, and addressing tenant issues. 

What Does FRBO Mean?

If you’ve come across rental listings with ‘FRBO’ in the description, it means that the property is “for rent by owner.” This means that the property is advertised and managed directly by the owner instead of a property management company. So, when a property is “for rent by owner,” you can expect the owner to be your landlord and the main point of contact while you live there. 

Private Landlords vs. Property Managers

Rental properties are either managed by private landlords or property managers. While their jobs may seem similar from the outside, the two have a few differences. After all, private landlords have complete control over their rental units and may have a more hands-on role. On the other hand, property managers take a more business-oriented approach with contracts and legal regulations.

What Do Private Landlords Do?

Private landlords take on the role of both a property owner and a property manager. However, instead of managing large portfolios with several different property types, they usually take on smaller portfolios, with just a few single-family rentals or 2 to 4-unit properties. 

That said, landlords are generally responsible for the following tasks. 

  • Listing rental properties
  • Showing rentals to prospective tenants
  • Reviewing applications and screening tenants
  • Managing and enforcing lease terms
  • Collecting rent and security deposits
  • Performing maintenance and repairs
  • Accounting and preparing tax documents
  • Handling tenant disputes or issues

Ultimately, landlords take on a more hands-on role when it comes to the day-to-day operations of owning rentals. 

What Do Property Managers Do?

Property managers have roles similar to private landlords but act more as middlemen than property owners. Typically, they’re more business-oriented and work to ensure properties, contracts, and operations meet legal regulations. Some of the responsibilities of a property manager include the following. 

  • Managing lease agreements and renewal contracts
  • Screening tenants
  • Handling tenant turnovers
  • Fulfilling maintenance and repair requests
  • Handling property finances
  • Collecting rent payments and security deposits
  • Ensuring compliance with local, state, and municipal codes
  • Managing contractors or vendors
  • Assisting with evictions

Should You Rent From a Private Landlord?

Renting a property directly from a private landlord offers certain advantages, like a more personal touch or easier communication. However, it’s important to understand some of the disadvantages as well. Here are some of the pros and cons to consider if you’re deciding whether or not to rent from a private landlord. 

Pros of Renting From a Private Landlord

  • More Flexibility- Private landlords may offer more flexibility to negotiate lease terms, like rent increases or lease duration. They may even be more open to negotiating pet policies or property modifications.
  • Direct Communication- With a private landlord, there’s no middleman between you and the property owner. As such, you can contact them more easily, which can help address property concerns or requests more quickly.
  • Fewer Requirements- Private landlords may have fewer requirements than large property management companies. So, you may be able to secure a property without extensive background checks or providing your rental history.
  • Potential Cost Savings- In some cases, renting from a private landlord may be cheaper than renting from a larger property management company, as you likely won’t be paying for extra amenities like pool or gym access.

Cons of Renting From a Private Landlord

  • Fewer Amenities- Private rentals typically don’t have as many amenities as apartments or complexes managed by property management companies. So, you might miss out on a community gym or pool.
  • Slower Maintenance and Repairs- Private landlords may not have a dedicated maintenance staff. Unfortunately, this can result in slower response times for repairs or maintenance issues compared to properties managed by professional companies.
  • More Responsibility- Most private landlords don’t have staff on hand to handle all maintenance or repairs. So, you may take on some of these responsibilities, like lawn care or minor repairs, while living at a private rental.
  • Lack of Formal Processes- Some private landlords don’t have formal procedures in place for handling rental transactions, disputes, or tenant requests. A lack of formality can lead to potential misunderstandings or conflicts.

Questions to Ask a Private Landlord

Renting from a private landlord can be less formal than renting from a property management company. Most rental property management companies provide comprehensive lease agreements with all the rules and expectations for you to follow. However, private landlords may have shorter leases that lack formality. As such, asking some of the following questions is important to ensure you know what to expect from the rental property. 

  • How much is the monthly rent, and when is it due?
  • Are there late fees for late payments? How much are your fees?
  • Does the rent include utilities? If not, how much do utilities typically cost each month?
  • Where can I pay the rent?
  • How long is the lease? Is it renewable once it’s up?
  • What will I need for the application process?
  • Do you accept pets? Are there any restrictions on what kind?
  • What happens if I need to break my lease?
  • How much notice do you give before entering the property?
  • Who do I contact regarding maintenance issues?
  • Am I allowed to paint or make any modifications?
  • Is renters insurance required?

If you have any questions about the property, ask them before signing a lease agreement. That way, you know what you’re getting into before signing a legally binding contract with your landlord. 

Find a Reliable Property Manager Today

Whether or not you rent from a private landlord is up to you as a renter. However, knowing the differences between private landlords and professional management companies is important. Additionally, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons to decide what structure you feel more comfortable with. 

Private landlords can offer more flexibility but may address urgent property needs more slowly. On the other hand, property management companies have streamlined processes for handling maintenance, repairs, or other urgent issues. 

Need More Advice? contact us today!

If you’re looking for a reliable property management company to rent from, look no further than Bay Property Management Group. We manage rental properties throughout Baltimore, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, and Washignton, DC. 

Additionally, if you’re a landlord looking to outsource some of your property management tasks, contact us to handle them all! We offer comprehensive rental management services, including rental marketing, tenant screening, rent collection, maintenance, inspections, eviction services, and more.