Renters deal with landlords / property owners or property management companies when renting property.
A landlord is usually the person who owns the rental unit(s); single-family homes or one or more units in a multi-family building. The landlord may be the sole owner or he/she may be the spokesperson for an investment group that owns a single or multi-family property. The landlord or owner deals directly with renters; both in choosing renters and managing current tenants.
A property manager is often a real estate professional hired by the rental property owner(s) to manage the property. The property manager is the middle person who collects rent and is usually responsible for repairs, grounds keeping, and budgets, etc. All responsibilities handled by a property manager are on a case by case basis laid out in the contract between the property management company and the property owner.
Most landlords and property managers require a security deposit that is fully refundable if there is no property damage when the renters leave. A first and last month deposit may also be required with a lease agreement as well as a non-refundable pet damage deposit can also be required for renters with pets.
What’s the Difference Between a Property Manager and a Landlord?
Renting from a property manager
A property manager may work with several individual homeowners or a homeowners’ association (HOA). People renting condominiums that are part of an HOA will usually pay rent and monthly dues to the property manager who represents the property owner(s).
A property management company often contracts with condominium associations to keep the grounds in good condition. The property manager can be authorized to enforce the codes, covenants, and restrictions that are part of the association bylaws. The rules or CCR’s can involve pet ownership or the responsibility of a renter for the upkeep of the property. Part of the responsibility of the property manager is to inform renters of all rules and regulations.
Any problems such as plumbing, electrical or appliance issues are the responsibility of the property manager if this is part of the contract. The property owner, including a condo owner who is renting out a unit, is informed of the problem and the manager is usually authorized to bring in their contractor or in-house maintenance person to make repairs or replacements.
Renters should be told upon move-in who is responsible for issues such as broken appliances, water damage, and even insect infestations though they are typically the responsibility of the property management company.
Renting from a landlord
People who rent directly from the property owner should sign a detailed rental agreement that lists all responsibilities of both parties. A landlord who owns up to a few rental properties may be tempted to keep things casual but with the absence of a homeowner’s association to set community guidelines, it is important to establish a set of rules and expectations. This way the landlord can send written notice and warnings when a tenant knowingly breaks the rules.
The landlord is usually responsible for floor coverings, plumbing, water heater and other appliances that endure normal use. The renters are usually responsible for grounds maintenance in a single-family home.
An individual homeowner may prefer a certain type of renter such as an older couple without children but landlords are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, etc. Speak to a property management company about the laws in your city if you are concerned about discrimination.
Homeowners can negotiate any type of rent they consider suitable. All rental agreements must be legal and both parties must have copies of the signed agreements.
Choosing between a property manager and a landlord
Potential renters should shop for the rental arrangement that is best for them and their families. Note that renters may not be entitled to a full refund of their security deposits to property managers or landlords if they cause damage to the property outside of normal wear and tear. For example, broken appliances caused by renter misuse, holes in walls and other damage may not be the responsibility of the property manager or landlord.
Son-Rise Property Management has been serving the property management needs of Bellingham and Whatcom County since 1996. Contact us today to see how we can help you find a rental property for your family or manage your rental properties.