Landlord vs Property Management Company: What’s the Difference?

Image of landlord vs. property manager

There is an endless stream of options when looking for an apartment in NYC. Fee or no fee? Prewar or new build? Another dilemma for potential renters is whether or not to go with a landlord building or one operated by a property management company. Often these terms are used interchangeably, but what is the real difference between renting from a landlord or management company?

What is a Landlord?

The main difference between a landlord and a property manager is that a landlord actually owns the building or property. Property management companies, on the other hand, are a third party service that landlords hire to run the day to day operations of managing and maintaining their building. If a landlord owns a very large building or owns multiple buildings, they may opt to hire a management company simply because it’s too much for an individual landlord to own. As a result, if you rent from a landlord, you will be renting directly from the building owner and the building will likely be smaller.

If you’re looking for a bit more bargaining power, consider renting directly from the landlord. Dealing with the owner gives renters much more flexibility for negotiating price as the landlord won’t need to consult another entity before making a decision.

Landlord and Property Manager Duties

Landlords and property manager may be different in the size of the buildings they operate, but ultimately they have similar responsibilities. Just like landlords, management companies are responsible for maintaining and running a building or development. Additional duties include:

  • Vetting and selecting tenants
  • Resolving maintenance requests and tenant complaints
  • Collecting rent payments
  • General upkeep and cleanliness of the property
  • Tracking property expenses

Potential Difference between Landlord vs. Property Management Companies

Landlord vs. Property Management Company…Which one is best? Well, that can be tricky and depends on the renter. If you rent from a landlord, you’ll likely have a more personal relationship.

This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how well you get along! Having a landlord who you trust and who will watch for you can make living in New York City a whole lot easier. That said, having a landlord who is super high-maintenance or worse, entirely derelict, can create a toxic and ultimately unsafe living situation.  In the best of worlds, a renter should be able to directly to their landlord for things like repairs or any issues they have with rent payments.

With a management company, you are often one of many. Often this translates to more bureaucracy when it comes to the rental application process. Once you’ve signed the lease, there’s a good chance you won’t get the same personal service as dealing with a landlord. There will be less room for negotiation on your monthly rent as well since management companies have pre-set prices with a standardized process in place that dictates how much to charge tenants. On the flip side, if you have a complicated maintenance request it may get resolved faster since they’ll already have vendors in place to handle it.

Landlords and Management Companies Must Obey Local Tenant Laws

Whatever rental route you choose, both landlords and management companies have to obey local laws. NYC tenants should expect heat, hot and cold water, and an overall safe and habitable dwelling. For more information on basic living conditions landlords are expected to provide, consult NYC’s warranty of habitability guidelines.