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The following is a guest post from Kristy Hessman from Hotpads.com where she is the lead writer.  The site aims to deliver a real estate market place for both renting and selling.  Currently, the site targets the larger markets in the U.S.  She graciously offered to write a post on her personal experience renting from various type of landlords, after all she’s had 19 different landlords. Her point of view as a female can offer a perspective and what kind of competition we as “live-in landlords” face.


Since leaving home for college, I’ve lived no fewer than 19 different rentals. Suffice it to say, I could tell a story about each and every one. From the semi-constructed apartment with no kitchen and a landlord who obviously had not obtained the proper construction permits and then harassed me after opening the door to the city inspector, to the psychologist landlord who requested and called six references each from my roommate and I before renting to us.

In my many years of renting expertise, here are just a few of the pros and cons I’ve learned from renting from various types of landlords.

Individual Landlord

Total Times Rented: 10

Pros: Flexibility. Renting from an individual landlord often means dealing directly with your landlord on everything from move-in date, to deposits, to issues that come up while living in the rental. Landlords who own the rental will often do more to make their tenants happy because they want their unit treated well. Renting from an individual landlord may also mean greater flexibility when it comes to things like painting walls and having pets.

Cons: They aren’t always accessible. Sometimes landlords own multiple investment properties in cities that they don’t actually live in. This can make it difficult to connect when it comes to urgent matters.

Best Experience: When the landlord decided to sell the house I was renting at the height of the market, he provided me with the equivalent of two months rent to find a new place to live.

Multifamily Apartment Complex

Total Times Rented: 5

Pros: Amenities. From fitness centers to pools, to dog parks, for the most part, the multifamily apartment complexes I’ve lived often have a number of added perks.

Cons: More upfront costs. Often times the larger apartment complexes will ask more in security and move in deposits. I found that they often don’t give back as much of those deposits as compared to individual landlords after moving out.

Best Experience: Being able to use a large apartment complex website to view floor plans, see which apartments were available and put down a deposit and reserve an apartment online unseen when moving to a city several hundred miles away.


Total Times Rented: 3

Pros: Cost savings. In most sublet situations the actual renter has already paid the required deposits and the sublet is for a short, set amount of time.

Cons: Not guaranteed. On the flip side, since subletting is often a short-term option, you don’t want to allow yourself to get too settled into the space because the real tenant is likely returning at some point.

Best Experience: After a friend moved into her boyfriend’s apartment, I moved into her San Francisco one-bedroom and paid her directly. We didn’t tell the landlord because we were afraid he would raise the rent. This saved me hundreds, if not thousands of dollars over the course of the sublet.

Live in Landlord

Total Times Rented: 1

Pros: Onsite. Renting out a room from the owner of a home or apartment who lives there means direct access to information about the rental, the neighborhood, even the appliances in the home.

Cons: Rigidness. Renting from someone who owns the home means they might be accustom to things being done one way and only one way.

Best Experience: Being able to save money for a trip around the world by finding a live-in landlord who was renting out one of her rooms at a very reasonable rate.

All in all, I’d say that while renting from individual landlords made up the large majority of my personal renting experience, one of the most economical ways to go is to rent from a live-in landlord that you get along well with.

Kristy Hessman writes for HotPads, a rental search website that makes it easy for you to find your next place in the city.


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