Apartment vs. Condo: What’s the Difference?
The terms “apartment” and “condo” are often used interchangeably, but there are some key differences between these two types of dwellings.
An apartment is typically a rental unit that a landlord owns. On the other hand, a condo is generally owned by the resident. Apartments usually have more shared common spaces, such as hallways and laundry rooms, while condos typically have more private common areas, such as yards and gardens.
Images: Creative Tonic Design, Melina Criborn
Rent Control Laws
Another key difference is that apartments are usually subject to rent control laws, limiting how much landlords can increase rents from one year to another. Condos are not subject to rent control laws. This means that the rent for a condo can go up by as much as the landlord wants, so long as it does not violate fair housing laws.
Perhaps the most significant difference between the two is that a company or property manager generally manages apartments, while condos are handled directly by an owner/resident. To organize a complex of any size, a property manager usually needs a state’s real estate commission license.
Property managers usually charge a fee for their services, prohibitively expensive for low-income residents with limited land stewardship experience and abilities.
But even if rental management fees do not exceed income limits set by HUD (a federal agency that provides housing assistance), they may still be too high for some residents because these fees include many expenses, such as building repairs and utilities, which would otherwise need to be paid by the owner.
On the other hand, Condos are usually managed directly by an owner/resident. This management style can be beneficial because condo associations are more flexible with lower fees that cover fewer expenses. But it also means that condo owners must deal with many of the responsibilities associated with managing a property.
For example, they may have to maintain their yards or other features in the common area, pay utility bills for these areas, regulate pets living within complexes (if any), clean hallways and stairwells, appoint community liaisons to address resident concerns, and much more!
The good news is that residents who choose apartment living do not have to worry about these responsibilities since they are all handled by the landlord.
Condos also typically have fewer rules than apartments. While some rental properties place limitations on parking spaces and pets, condos can usually set their own house rules, so long as the rules do not break fair housing laws.
For example, an owner-managed condo association might require that owners keep their doors open if they are cooking food that might attract vermin (for safety reasons). But it cannot force an owner to impose this rule on guests who come over because imposing such a requirement would violate fair housing law and unfairly deprive those guests of enjoying home-cooked meals!