Rent From Owner: The Ultimate Guide To Renting From A Landlord Tips | For rent (2023)

A dream home can take many forms. Yours could be a cozy high-rise studio with great amenities, a trendy beachfront condo, or a three-bedroom, one-basement family home. As you try to decide, you have several options available to you. The trick is finding the ideal rental for you. You may have spotted a delightful cottage with a sign in the yard: 'For Rent by Owner' and its large veranda and flowered garden spoke to you. Perhaps you are the proud pet parent of a St. Bernard and want lots of country for them to explore.

After considering all the options, you have decided to rent a house from a private owner. How do you proceed? What should you consider? What is the difference to renting an apartment that is managed by a property manager? Let's explore the pros and cons and the questions to ask yourself when considering an owner rental.

What is a landlord?

Put simply, the landlord is the owner of the property to be rented. As a property owner, this is the person who screens tenants, sets rental rates, arranges maintenance, accepts payments, and deals with problems or complaints. You may also hear the terms "landlord" and "owner" used in reference to a landlord.

Most single-family homes and small shared apartments (usually fewer than six units) are managed by the owners themselves. Large residential complexes are often managed by property management companies. If the owner owns multiple rental units or an apartment building with more than six units, they may also consider a property management company.

The advantages of renting through the owner


The main benefit of renting from a property owner is flexibility. The owner makes the decisions, not a company. If you find yourself in a situation where your credit rating isn't the best, or you've had a history of eviction, you have a better chance of explaining your situation to a landlord than you would to a property management company. It's even possible to find rentals without a credit check by searching for rentals by owner. If you have multiple pets or a very large dog and are having trouble finding a roommate, you might have better luck finding a private home to rent.


Renting from an owner can save you money. A private landlord may be more willing to negotiate rent and fees, especially if they only have one rental property. These landlords are sometimes referred to as “random landlords” – they may have bought a second home as an investment and are renting it out, or perhaps it came to them through inheritance. They are more invested in the home and will likely be very responsive to repairs and maintenance as this is their only rental property.


Renting from a private landlord is much more individual – in some cases, you may be the landlord's sole tenant. This means a much more intimate relationship as you are not just one of many. They might even become friends of sorts, with an open line of communication. Your landlord may also be more willing to work with you when it comes to maintenance requests and other concerns.

The disadvantages of renting by the owner


Where there are advantages, there are of course also disadvantages. Shared apartments offer a variety of amenities you are unlikely to find in a rental property, such as: B. an in-house fitness center or a car wash station.


Another great benefit of renting in a larger community is the ability to pay rent and submit maintenance requests online. Many shared apartments also have 24-hour emergency maintenance. It can take several days for a homeowner to address issues, especially if they own multiple properties or live out of state.


Having a landlord is more like one on one. Yes, this is usually an advantage (see above), but it can also be a disadvantage if your landlord is overstaying (e.g. stopping by for unscheduled visits). If your landlord is very picky or difficult to deal with, this can create a problematic rental experience as there is no one else to talk to (with a property management company there are often multiple people to talk to).

Questions to ask when renting from the owner

Renting by the owner is different from renting by a property manager. While some of the questions are the same, some are specific to the landlord/tenant dynamic. Here are some of those questions:

  1. Are utilities included in the rent? (Clarify what the rent is, even if it is stated in the listing.)
  2. What day is the rent due? Is there a grace period? What is the late fee?
  3. What other fees and deposits are required and which are refundable?
  4. How long is the rent? (Make sure you agree on the rental period.)
  5. How do I pay rent? (Avoid a landlord who wants cash.)
  6. Can I pay the rent online?
  7. When is the house available? (There may be current tenants - do your research before committing, especially if you need to move in early.)
  8. What does your application process look like?
  9. Are there other interested parties? (How many people are looking at the house?)
  10. Can I have a roommate?
  11. Do you allow subletting?
  12. Are Pets allowed? How high are the fees? What is the pet policy?
  13. What is your policy when it comes to terminating a lease early?
  14. Can I extend the rental agreement? (You may find a landlord planning to sell in a year or move into the property in the future - be sure to research if you plan to live there long-term.)
  15. How is the parking What options do I have?
  16. Do you have rules for guests?
  17. How long will you give notice before entering the house?
  18. How do I submit a maintenance request and am I responsible for maintenance/repairs?
  19. Who mows the lawn? Can I plant flowers?
  20. Can I paint or make design changes to the house? What is forbidden?
  21. Are you asking me to take out home contents insurance?

How to avoid rental scams

You might worry about fraud if you rent from a private owner. Rental fraud occurs when a person who does not have the legal right tries to rent the property anyway, or there is no actual rental and the listing is fake. There are steps you can takeAvoid rental fraud.

  • Always see the house in person and have the landlord meet you there. This is crucial as a scammer will do anything to avoid meeting you in person, including wild tales about suddenly having to move abroad.
  • Do not pay any money until you have met the landlord and viewed the house. If a landlord asks for money in advance before you have viewed the apartment, that is a cause for concern.
  • Never transfer money. Scammers may ask you to put money into escrow - don't do this.
  • If the deal is too good to be true, then it is! If the rent is well below market value and the "landlord" is pressuring you to rent the apartment before someone else does, it is possible that this is a scam.
  • A real landlord will want to interview you and may want to do a background and/or credit check. If the landlord isn't asking for anything and instead is overly eager to rent to you, be suspicious.
  • The landlord wants to charge you for a large number of prepayments and an unusually large security deposit. If the fees seem too high,Check your state lawsabout what is required.
  • If a landlord says you don't need a lease, that's a red flag.
  • Meet the landlord immediately. If they don't want to meet up or give you excuses why they can't meet you, it could be a scam.

The road to your dream home will likely take a few turns, but knowing what to look for and what works best for you will make the journey that much easier. Renting from a private owner is very different from renting from a property management company, and each offers unique benefits and some challenges. Good luck finding that ideal spot, whether it's a sleek high-rise in the city or a beachfront bungalow.

Posted: July 30, 2019

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