Apartment/Condo leasing - questions to ask?

I’ve always rented through apartment complexes where the property I rented was managed through a central office that actually owned the property. I’m at a point where that may change with my next lease. I’m in touch with the owner of a condo who’s looking to rent their place with a 12 month (and the ability to renew). The location works for me, and the price is better than what I’m paying now. Renting from an owner is new to me, and even if I end up not leasing this one, the main places I’m looking are property management companies where they don’t own the property, but manage the leasing/rent payment process.

Are there questions I should ask that are different when looking at this kind of situation? I know what I ask with apartment complexes: approximate utility bills, recourse if neighbors are noisy, etc. Is there anything specific I should ask when it’s a condo unit?

Are there specific things I should check when I’m viewing places? Sure, some things I’ve learned over time: after the apartment that had a vermin issue, I now check for evidence of issues. But anything else?

Find out how the owner will deal with any plumbing or hvac problems that arise. While the condo complex will have a management company, they will not usually deal with issues inside the unit. Basically your question is “who manages the property?”. There are three possible answers to the question;

  1. The management company.
  2. The owner (and if so, where does he live).
  3. The owner will basically let you do it and take any expenses off your rent (subject to his approval.

The first answer is by far the best. They are available, nearby and know how to do it.

Thanks - that’s a question I wouldn’t have thought to ask!

My experience is limited as I only owned the one condo and it was for several years to a stellar tenant.
Our association managed the property, but didn’t manage individual units. Anything ‘broken’ on the outside of the walls were ‘common’ areas and the responsibility of the condo association maintenence staff. inside the walls were my responsibility. Confirm that arrangement with your landlord…who do YOU call if there is a problem? I always wanted to know if my tenant had a problem, even if it wasn’t my responsibility so I could call the maintenence staff. Practically though, it was easier and faster for her to call the maintenence staff directly for common area issues. Noisy neighbors? yeah, that could be a problem. No one wants to take responsibility. Its not the condo’s responsibility, nor was it really mine, but I had to deal with calling owners of other units and sending registered mail to keep their units in better shape. Confirm with your landlord, who is responsible for loud, disruptive neighbors; hopefully the association has some leverage.
Get the contact information for the condo association management and maintenance staff. bring them cookies…they will be a lifesaver when your landlord, doesn’t come through or can’t.

You may want to see if it has had any problems with mold, and hopefully no problems with mold now.

Seconded! In NYC in the early 1990s, I had an apartment that was sublet from a woman who owned 3 apartments in the building. She was out of the country, and her uncle managed them for her (by varying definitions of “manage”, we later found out that he helped himself to a nontrivial amount of the proceeds).

When there was a repair needed, they just had us call in the appropriate people and deduct it from the rent (with receipts of course).

We’re actually going to be on the other side of this, soon - buying a condo for our in-laws to live in and “rent”. They’ll handle the logistics of repairs since we’re a thousand miles away, and we’ll reimburse them as needed.

I doubt I’d do that for someone I didn’t know (in the OP’s case, the owner does know him/her).

As far as repairs for pluming and ac go, I would make sure there is something in the lease that states 'X amount of days of pluming or ac gone unrepaired, the rent will be prorated until repairs are made."

Heck, I did this for my son when I had to cosign an apartment lease for him. They weren’t to happy with me about that but whatever.