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What is a private landlord?
Private landlords or independent landlords are the ultimate property owners. They have complete control of their properties and often don’t use a real estate listing agent or private management company.
Landlords come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some are professionals who manage multiple properties in order to profit from their investments, while others simply want to provide affordable housing options for those who need it the most, such as low-income families or seniors on fixed incomes. Others may be inexperienced investors with only one rental property. They might have inherited it or purchased it for their children to help them get on the property ladder.
Throughout the process, an independent landlord markets the property and maintains direct contact with tenants. The landlord will then handle any inquiries from potential renters and set up viewings for them so they can decide what’s best for both parties—all before signing a lease.
How to find private landlords?
Now that you have a little background of private landlords and how they are much more independent compared to property management companies, you may now ask where and how to meet one.
If you’re looking to rent a property directly from the landlord, you’ll want to make your search as broad and varied as possible. Because a private landlord likely will use an estate agent, their advertisements may not appear on large portals that only list major properties (and which also charge hefty fees). They prefer smaller classified ad websites that cater to more specific needs, such as studio flats, small apartments, and single-family homes.
There are hundreds of dedicated property rental websites online that provide ample information about the property, such as floor size, window view, nearby attractions, and more. You’ll also be able to see some reviews, 3D walk-throughs, videos, and mapping, giving you the impression that you’ve been on the property even if you haven’t.
We have listed some of these below to further help you find your private landlord.
- Social Media (Facebook/ IG/ Twitter/ Pinterest/Tiktok)
Yes, I know I said there are dedicated rental websites, but we’re going to start with something that isn’t – social media. We all (or at least the majority of us) have a social media account, and it’s where independent landlords usually post about their listings first. You’d be surprised how many private landlords post their rental properties on non-housing websites.
Private landlords may even create an infographic with information about the properties that will appeal to tenants. And, because social media posts are easily viewable by anyone if they are set to public, an increasing number of property owners are using this platform to advertise their properties. Using the Facebook marketplace to look for properties can be a breeze. Facebook rental groups, Instagram’s Explore page, Twitter, Pinterest, and even Tiktok are all good places to look. Social media now hosts more and more videos of luxury home tours, inspection fails, wealth management, and real estate agent tips.
Creating your own post about looking for properties can also help you get recommendations from friends. Try starting with these resources before expanding outwards, as they may be right in your comfort zone.
Craigslist is a fantastic way to find affordable housing in almost any area, but it can also be difficult. It’s important that you take caution when using Craigslist because there are some shady listings on this website. Be careful with those listings and photos that look too good to be true, because they just might be.
For renters, Apartment List is the ultimate destination to find their private landlords. First, you take a set of questions that helps the site match you with your ideal property- from location preference down to budget! Then it’s up-to-date listings and easy viewing which means when you find something that fits just push “Apply Now.” It doesn’t hurt either that all transactions are handled via software so there’ll never be any complicated paperwork involved or headaches trying to send checks across town at night time.
Rentals.com makes it simple for tenants to find the home of their dreams, with searches organized into condos, lofts, and duplexes! Because there is less information required about amenities, independent landlords typically provide their contact information so tenants can easily contact them if they have any additional questions.
Trulia is a simple and attractive site that allows private landlords to set parameters, like viewing photo listings with vital statistics about the property right underneath.
Zillow Rental Manager is one of the best rental listing sites to find private landlords because of the scope and reach of its data and services. The site receives heavy web traffic; it has a huge inventory and offers tons of marketing services making it one of the most convenient platforms to use for renters and landlords.
Look for “No Broker Fee” in the Listing or Search for “No Broker Fee” in the filters
Realtor.com makes it easy to search for new listings easily and keeps all your interests in one place. The site is kept updated and has very detailed information including phone numbers that are easily accessible.
Facebook.com has a Property Rentals section where you can find local listings. Search example: “Rental property near Atlanta, Georgia on Facebook”. You can use the facebook messenger to make an inquiry or reach out via the link the owner provided.
Pro Tip: Look for “No Broker Fee” or “Listed by Owner” to identify private landlords. If there is even a “small broker fee” you may not be dealing with a Private Landlord.
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What’s the difference between Property Managers and Private Landlords?
Property managers are typically on-site stewards of rental spaces and apartment buildings. They usually have a business-only approach when it comes to contracts and will guide you through your lease or contract.
Renting from a landlord is similar to renting directly from the owner of your home. The private landlords list, manage and maintain the rental you live in, so there are advantages and disadvantages.
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Advantages and Disadvantages of Private Landlords
One of the best aspects of renting from a landlord is the opportunity to form a strong bond with them. If you and your private landlord get along well, they’ll be more willing to assist you when things go wrong and may forgive an honest mistake or miscommunication in terms of missed rent payments – even if it’s only for one day! As a result, landlords become more approachable rather than being strict about rules, which makes tenants happy because they can now talk about issues like scratches and dents without feeling guilty.
Other Advantages include:
- Avoid admin fees (e.g. background checks) and realtor fees when finding the apartment- you’ll be dealing directly with the owner instead of a company’s administration team.
- Cheaper and more flexible rental rates – private landlords may be more open to negotiating.
- Less pressure on your credit score – some landlords may only do a background check or soft credit check.
- Flexible deposit arrangements – private landlords have more power to work with you to find a deposit agreement that fits you both.
Some disadvantages include:
- Less knowledgeable or experienced with tenant and property management – If the landlords are new or “accidental” landlords, they may not be aware of their legal obligations and responsibilities. Make sure you know your tenant rights in these situations. There are several online resources available to you such as LegalZoom or RocketLawyer.
- Informal agreements – Private landlords may offer handshake deals, which you should avoid.
- Inconsistent Responsiveness – Private landlords may not be as responsive as a property manager when it comes to maintenance and repairs because they may not have the right tools and systems in place to manage tenant communication (e.g. email, emergency phone line).
How to Avoid Private Landlord Scams
Scams are rampant on popular classified websites like Craigslist and Zillow, but you don’t have to be a victim. As long as you know what to look for and can discern the red flags, you should be able to avoid rental scams and find legitimate rental property listings unscathed by the fraudsters and fakes.
Private landlords may seem at first to be less practical than a management company, but with the tools and information now available to independent owners, renters can find a better-priced property with a just-as-efficiently run property management platform.
Renters should still take care to research properly and conduct their own due diligence – it’s not just about the landlord accepting them! The marketplace is growing and with it, the information is available to all parties. A fruitful, symbiotic relationship between landlord and tenant can truly be a win-win.
While you can always look up apartments for rent near you with a search on Google, Craigslist, or Zillow, some people prefer to get an agent’s help to save them the hassle of tracking down landlords and property managers. However, real estate agents charge for their services and the fees they charge can vary by location and can typically cost you the equivalent of one month’s rent in exchange for convenience.
When renting a property, make sure you’ve not only checked out the property itself, but also the landlord or property manager. Here’s the list of some things you should consider doing:
Ask the current tenants about their experience.
Ask neighbors in nearby buildings if they’ve had any issues.
Check out online apartment ratings and look generally on Google.
Google the landlord or manager and see if they have any online reviews or comments.
The landlord is in charge of repairing the exterior or structure of the property including damages to the roof, kitchen, or leaky seals in the windows. Landlords are also responsible for maintaining and ensuring there is an adequate water supply, gas, and electricity. Private landlords also have to acquire the appropriate certificates and permits, manage security deposits and provide honest and truthful information to their tenants.
It can also help your own standing to know more about the legal rights of private landlords.