You cannot tell the difference between a condo and apartment based on the way they look, when they were built or whether they are available for rent. The difference between a condo and apartment is their ownership structure.
In a condominium building, each unit is owned by a different individual. In an apartment building, all the units are owned by the same person or company.
Much like owning a house, condominium owners can chose to live in their unit or rent it to others, whereas an entire apartment building is owned by a single person or company who lease each apartment unit to individual renters.
While they may seem similar on the surface, renting a condo has unique advantages and disadvantages compared with an apartment.
Advantages of renting a condo vs apartment:
- Condos are often well taken care of because they are owned by individuals who have invested in them. The owners may once have lived in the condo and purchased modern appliances, nice finishes and other details that you wouldn’t find in an apartment. Condo owners care about maintenance to ensure the unit retains or appreciates in value. In contrast, the priority for apartment building owners is to maximize rental profits, which often means spending as little as possible on upkeep.
- Condo buildings often have more amenities than apartments, such as a concierge, gym, pool, recreation room, etc. They often tend to be newer, although this varies by city. Many people who rent or buy condominiums love the availability of these luxury options.
- Because you’ll rent from the owner of your condo (or their hired property manager), you’ll get more personalized attention than you would from a large rental corporation.
Disadvantages of renting a condo vs apartment:
- Extra amenities come with additional costs. In addition to paying their mortgage, condo owners are responsible for paying maintenance fees to keep up the building’s common areas. These fees are usually bundled into the cost of rent, but in some cases renters must pay these fees separately. Therefore, it is usually more expensive to rent a condo than a more basic apartment.
- Condo boards are allowed to create their own rules for their building. They may decide that they don’t like pets, balcony plants, red curtains, children…you get the idea. They have the power to enforce these rules on both owners and renters in that building. It is worth reading the rules of each condo building in detail before signing a lease to rent a unit. Apartment buildings usually to be much more relaxed and subject to legislation which tends to protect tenant’s rights.
- Condo owners are often first-time or amateur landlords. They may not be very familiar with local laws, collecting rent, and may be learning how to manage repairs for the first time. In contrast, reputable apartment owners are professional landlords. They know who to call when things go wrong, collect rent for a living, and are (hopefully) fully familiar with all local legislation.
What is a condo?
A condo (short for condominium) is a residential building in which each unit is separately owned. Condos are usually part of a larger building made up of many units. But detached condominiums also exist, such as those within gated communities. What all condos have in common is that common areas – such as gardens, garages, party rooms, pools and gyms—are shared between all unit owners.
Individual ownership of a condo technically extends only to the air space of the unit. These boundaries usually include the walls of the condo, allowing the owner to make interior changes that don’t impact shared spaces. The building and its common areas are managed by a homeowner’s association on behalf of all owners. Among other things, the homeowner’s association determine the cost of maintaining common spaces and have the legal power to collect maintenance fees from all owners.