logo

Condo vs Apartment: What's the Difference?

AF

By Adeeva Fritz

Sep 24, 2021


The words apartment and condo (short for condominium) are often used interchangeably. But apartments and condos are not one and the same. In real estate, some define a condo as owned and an apartment as rented. Yet, a condo can be rented out by its owner. Confusing, right? At the most basic level, the main difference between a condo and an apartment is who owns and manages it.

What is a condo and who owns it?

A condo is a privately owned unit within a community of other privately owned units. Each condo unit in a condo building or condo complex is usually owned by one unique individual who can live in the unit themselves or rent it out, depending on the condo association rules.

Which brings us to the next question: What's a condo association? As part of condo ownership, individuals of a condo community become part of its condo association (often referred to as a homeowners association or HOA). The condo association is responsible for the governing rules of the condo community and the upkeep of all common areas, grounds, and the condo building at large. To cover these costs, each condo owner must pay a monthly HOA fee set forth by the condo association. Meanwhile, the cost of maintaining the interior of each condo is the sole responsibility of each unique owner.

What is an apartment and who owns it?

Like a condo, an apartment is a unit in a building that contains multiple units. However, unlike in condo buildings where a different person typically owns each unit, in an apartment building, all the apartments are generally owned by the same property owner. This single property owner either manages the entire building on their own or, more commonly, hires an individual property manager or property management company to do so on their behalf. In apartment complexes, there's no owner's association or HOA fee above and beyond the monthly rent to help cover the cost of building upkeep. The apartment owner is responsible for all aspects of maintenance within each apartment's interior, as well as the building's exterior, common areas, and grounds. Another difference between apartments and condos is that all units in an apartment building are more or less the same, whereas it's more likely to find variation in finishes and floor plans among different condos in the same complex.

Living in a Condo vs Apartment: 6 Factors to Consider

When choosing between living in a condo vs apartment, here are 6 things that renters should take into consideration.

1. Availability Before you get your heart set on renting a condo, it's worth noting that HOAs often limit the number of units that can be rented within a condo community at any given time. Some HOAs even ban rentals entirely.

2. Community When you rent a condo, you'll be residing among many individuals who own their units, resulting in a neighborly vibe. Between pride of ownership and the HOA fees, residents of condo communities may also take better care of the common areas than your average apartment renter. However, with community comes responsibility — not to mention rules.

3. Rules While there are certainly perks to condo living, there are also restrictions. Every condo building or condo complex is governed by a set of rules and regulations spelled out in a document called the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (a.k.a. CC&Rs or the declaration). For example, there may be pet limitations, noise restrictions, trash disposal requirements, and more. Of course, not all apartments allow pets either. If you've got a four-legged roommate, be sure to check out our tips on how to find a pet-friendly rental.

4. Amenities Some apartment buildings may include amenities such as free parking, a fitness center, or a pool. However, renters are much more likely to find these types of amenities in condo communities. If amenities are important to you, you may find the perks of living in a condo appealing.

5. Cost The cost of renting an apartment tends to be fairly straightforward. Most apartment lease agreements require a security deposit, plus the first and last month's rent upfront. Generally, utilities are not included in the monthly rent. When renting a condo, there can be a bit more variability in the lease agreement due to the fact that renters are dealing with an individual landlord vs a large property owner. Different condo owners may require different upfront payments. Condo owners may also be more open to negotiating. Unlike in apartment rentals, the monthly rent for a condo usually includes the HOA fee and utilities. Note that HOA fees vary by condo community. The more high-end the complex and amenities, the higher the HOA fees.

6. Landlord In a condo rented out by an individual property owner, renters can develop a more personal connection with their landlord. Sounds good, right? Well, that all depends on the personalities involved. While some condo owners are responsive, willing, and able to accommodate renter needs, that's not always the case. When leasing an apartment, the landlord is typically a professional property manager. As such, they may be able to resolve issues such as repairs more quickly and efficiently thanks to their experience and relationships with maintenance and service providers.

The Bottom Line

Now that you know the difference between a condo and an apartment, the question is, which one is right for you? Whatever you decide, don't be afraid to ask questions, and be sure to read the lease agreement carefully before making your next move.

Find the best deal

We rate and sort every listing based on fair market rent.

Top metro areas

Atlanta Apartments

471 apartments starting at $700/month

Austin Apartments

723 apartments starting at $649/month

Baltimore Apartments

443 apartments starting at $150/month

Birmingham Apartments

154 apartments starting at $545/month

Boston Apartments

3,201 apartments starting at $150/month

Buffalo Apartments

71 apartments starting at $150/month

Charlotte Apartments

444 apartments starting at $395/month

Chicago Apartments

4,533 apartments starting at $400/month

Cincinnati Apartments

252 apartments starting at $150/month

Cleveland Apartments

302 apartments starting at $432/month

Columbus Apartments

738 apartments starting at $400/month

Dallas Apartments

725 apartments starting at $475/month

Denver Apartments

536 apartments starting at $150/month

Detroit Apartments

319 apartments starting at $300/month

Grand Rapids Apartments

115 apartments starting at $500/month

Hartford Apartments

89 apartments starting at $775/month

Houston Apartments

348 apartments starting at $150/month

Indianapolis Apartments

447 apartments starting at $150/month

Jacksonville Apartments

580 apartments starting at $400/month

Kansas City Apartments

346 apartments starting at $400/month

Las Vegas Apartments

487 apartments starting at $745/month

Los Angeles Apartments

2,633 apartments starting at $150/month

Louisville Apartments

213 apartments starting at $540/month

Memphis Apartments

464 apartments starting at $450/month

Miami Apartments

131 apartments starting at $1,250/month

Milwaukee Apartments

387 apartments starting at $150/month

Minneapolis Apartments

536 apartments starting at $700/month

Nashville Apartments

198 apartments starting at $150/month

New Orleans Apartments

203 apartments starting at $775/month

New York City Apartments

2,244 apartments starting at $850/month

Oklahoma City Apartments

426 apartments starting at $150/month

Orlando Apartments

201 apartments starting at $995/month

Philadelphia Apartments

1,474 apartments starting at $350/month

Phoenix Apartments

783 apartments starting at $679/month

Pittsburgh Apartments

547 apartments starting at $150/month

Portland Apartments

496 apartments starting at $150/month

Providence Apartments

85 apartments starting at $700/month

Raleigh Apartments

210 apartments starting at $425/month

Richmond Apartments

269 apartments starting at $300/month

Riverside Apartments

68 apartments starting at $150/month

Sacramento Apartments

161 apartments starting at $995/month

Salt Lake City Apartments

159 apartments starting at $850/month

San Antonio Apartments

386 apartments starting at $400/month

San Diego Apartments

490 apartments starting at $150/month

San Francisco Apartments

635 apartments starting at $150/month

San Jose Apartments

168 apartments starting at $1,045/month

Seattle Apartments

614 apartments starting at $150/month

St. Louis Apartments

286 apartments starting at $150/month

Tampa Apartments

238 apartments starting at $795/month

Virginia Beach Apartments

106 apartments starting at $1,050/month

Washington DC Apartments

554 apartments starting at $150/month