27 Mar Renting a Condo vs Apartment
The Condo Conundrum: What Renting a Condo Does for You (Renting a Condo vs Apartment)
More and more of Toronto’s rental housing is coming in the form of condominiums, for rent by private or corporate owners. But aside from the name, what’s the difference between renting a condo vs apartment for your next move?
There are tangible differences between apartment rental and condominium rental to weigh when making your choice of applications. Here are five factors to consider when asking whether a condominium rental is right for you.
- Condominium buildings tend to be newer builds
Although with the new year—and UrbanCorp’s cancellation of two downtown condo projects in favour of building rental apartments—there’s been a decided shift back toward newly built apartment buildings, a Toronto condominium will generally be newer and built with more modern materials than an apartment building.
“Purpose-built apartment construction has been almost non-existent the last few decades across the GTA,” says the Toronto Star, and Shaun Hildebrand, vice-president of Urbanation, a research group specifically focused on the condominium industry, backs that up, saying that privately owned rental condos have soared to take up 99% of Toronto’s new rental supply.
What that means for you? Rental condominiums are less likely to have the issues associated with building age: Wear and tear in common areas, occasional pest issues, water pipe corrosion, disruptive noise due to ongoing heavy maintenance, less efficient heating and ventilation systems, and more.
However, newer rental condominiums can lack some of the features of older trends in building design: The insulating brick and plaster of Toronto’s oldest rental stock provides less natural light than current glass-walled condominiums, but keeps the cold out—and heat in—like magic and ensures low hydro bills.
As well, there’s a sweet spot for condominium rental: It takes a new condo a few years to work the kinks out, construction-wise. A condominium unit that’s less than three years old may be still discovering its maintenance problems, while slightly older units can usually be relied upon for the minimum of maintenance trouble.
- Condominium rentals can bundle your utility bills
As discussed in previous posts here, one of the major draws of condominium living is that you can bundle your utility bills into easy-to-pay, easy-to-budget-for condo fees, set by the condo board to a fixed monthly rate.
While the words “utilities included” used to be standard in Toronto rental listings, with the advent of the provincial government’s smart meter legislation in 2007, rental apartments that pick up the hydro bill have all but vanished. Instead, they’ve been replaced by individual unit meters that gauge your hydro usage individually.
If you’re a renter who’s dedicated to conserving hydro, the apartment option may be for you. But if not—or if you worry about paying winter heating bills on a rental apartment you can’t personally reinsulate—the pooled resource of monthly condo fees, rolled into your rent, can be a great source for peace of mind.
- Security matters
While apartment buildings with a security desk and weekend patrols are not uncommon, on the whole, condominium buildings have a consistently stronger game when it comes to security and front desk coverage.
The reasons are simple: Rental buildings, especially those owned as investment properties, won’t have the same stake in a good security presence that a condominium board made up of—and funded by—people who own units and live in the building will. Condominium boards allow residents to set the security budget, and have a stronger motivation to allot the security presence that’s necessary for the neighbourhood they call home.
As well, an active and engaged security presence can be a massive help for in-building disputes. A noisy party next door can be calmed down with one call to the front desk, rather than late-night hunting for a superintendent’s phone number—who may live offsite—or going directly to the police.
- Building for ownership means quality appliances
While condominiums owned by investors make up a significant portion of the rental stock in downtown Toronto, they’re not built to rent—which means a higher quality, overall, of appliances.
Condominium kitchens are overwhelmingly more likely to come with new, energy-efficient, organized fridges; easy-to-clean glasstop stoves; and compact dishwashers, which don’t appear in any but the most luxurious apartment rentals. This extends into the bathroom, where low-flow toilets and adjustable showerheads are increasingly common features. As well as using less energy and water, newer appliances will perform better, cook more evenly, clean more easily, and give you infinitely fewer maintenance problems from day-to-day use.
Architectural design geared for ownership also means another vital perk: the majority of rental condos will provide ensuite laundry rooms. There’s a significant savings in not having to hoard your quarters—or fill a chip card—to do laundry in a common laundry room or outside laundromat, and the convenience of a washer and dryer that’s always available, no matter what hour of the night, can turn an early-morning-meeting wardrobe emergency into a minor before-bed fix.
- Maintenance with the pride of ownership
The most intangible—and most important—bonus to renting in a condominium building is the attention that pride of ownership brings. A condominium building is maintained by its owners, rather than a third-party management company or REIT, and owners take more consistent care of their common areas—and in the case of your landlord, of your unit in particular.
While common maintenance tasks can fall behind in a rental apartment building—unpainted walls, unreplaced carpets, sidewalks going unsalted in the winter—maintenance standards are often higher in a condominium building.
Ultimately, renting in a condominium building can be rental with the advantage of an ownership ethic: clean, bright, and with neighbours who will appreciate the common areas like it’s their home—because it is.
SandraPosted at 13:11h, 16 April
THree important facts were left out of this article:
1. Condos usually have a washer & dryer inside the unit. Apartments often have laundry rooms in the basement. If you leave your clothes unattended in an apartment, they may not be there when you go back, so condos with their own W/D are significantly more convenient. And you don’t have to run around looking for loonies either.
2. Since apartments are generally older, the rooms are almost always much larger. A bachelor in an apartment will be around 800-900 square feet. A 2 bedroom apartment in a condo will be 800-900 square feet. So if you have larger furniture, or are moving out of a house, deciding how much of your furniture you want to get rid of will be a factor. Tiny apartments require “condo-sized” furniture.
3. The MOST significant difference is that Condos are almost always MUCH more expensive. You might find a $1200-1400 1 bedroom apartment downtown Toronto, but a condo in the same area will cost you $1600 -2000 a month.
Don’t know how the writer could have “forgotten” to mention these IMPORTANT 3 things.
LalaPosted at 14:47h, 16 April
Please see my comment and reply if you can as I am interested to see where I can rent bachelor apartment 800 – 900 square feet!
Zee JPosted at 15:54h, 22 April
Thank you for your suggestions and comment. Your points are very welcomed and we will look forward to make new blog articles and include your suggestions and points. Thank you very much for your participation!
LalaPosted at 14:45h, 16 April
My bachelor in Toronto is only 400 square feet. I am not sure where do you see bachelor 800 – 900 square feet. Please let me know what builiding is that so that I can take look. Check floor plan before you comment!
PetePosted at 13:13h, 21 April
My Bachelor is about 600 and I live in an affordable apartment building in the heart of downtown.
LalaPosted at 13:22h, 21 April
That shounds reasonable. I lived in 425 square feet bachelor and they had 398 sq.ft smaller ones but I never saw 800 – 900 sq.ft. When I looked to rent batchelor the biggest one I was able to find was around 500 sq.ft. in old apartment building but it was very dirty and old building that I decided to go for smaller place but well mantained building in East York.
GordoPosted at 15:24h, 22 April
I had a bachelor apt years ago on Jameson Ave, south of King Street. It was easily 800 sq ft. It unfortunately also came with roaches, mice and holes in the wall. All were promised to be fixed, but Wynn Properties never did anything.
LalaPosted at 15:51h, 22 April
Hi Gordo I just went on the Wynn Properties Website and find out that bachelor is actually 650 sq.ft. and I can see it is actually great size. Thanks for sharing but as you said it comes with unwanted tenants 🙂
PaulinePosted at 19:25h, 24 April
I think your article is pro condo. Let me enlighten you about things you neglected to say. A condo owner can sell the condo anytime he pleases and give you 60 days to move. You will never have to move from an apt. except by your choice or if you are evicted. Many condo owners refuse to do repairs in the unit or live out of the country and ask the tenant to pay then they will be reimbursed. Some tenants may not have that kind of money on hand. Most times condo renters have to deal with an agent and have no contact with the actual owner. Many condo renters still have to pay hydro as I have been told. I am a Sr. Leasing Consultant in the rental business and I have heard horror stories from condo rentals. Some of the condos they are building are made cheaply as well. You can hear your neighbour going to the bathroom or having a shower: pipes rattling or even hanky panky going on. Yes some property management companies don’t look after the properties as they should but many do. Pests live in condos as well. Condos aren’t exempt from the unwanted. At the side of your ad there are condos for rent and I find the prices ridiculous. I will compare to one of my bldgs: a 1 bdrm size 712 SF rents for $1195 + hydro, that ad asks for $1575 for a 1 bdrm 671 SF. My 2 bdrms are 1059 SF @ $1550 + hydro…that ad ask for $2400 for a 2 bdrm of 849 SF. SMALL condo units compared to the older bldgs. You have to look around and google property mgmt companies to find some good buildings. Landlord is required to upkeep the property including hallways and main areas so my suggestions to everybody is do your homework before renting. The internet has a lot of information about buildings and either property mgmt companies or even private owners. Consider location as well. There are pros and cons for condo and apartment rentals.
LalaPosted at 17:32h, 11 May
What about laundry? For me its gross to was my clothes and underwear where 200 other tenants of apartment building washing. I prefer my own laundry machines and convenience of using it when I want!
RexPosted at 14:34h, 29 May
Wow, Lala, so you’re willing to pay upwards of $850 per month (based on Pauline’s 2-bdrm examples in the post above yours) for the ability to wash your panties in your own unit? Seriously? You do realize that the devices are called WASHING machines, right? And that the water and everything in them actually DRAINS from the machine, right? In all my years renting and SAVING MONEY that could be invested rather than blown on USURIOUS FEES which would never fully benefit me, I’ve yet to have any negative consequences from doing my laundry in a “community” washing machine. On top of that, they’re ALWAYS bigger than the dinky little things you get in your condos, which means bigger loads and fewer actual washes. It would take me a YEARS of “laundry loonies” to come close to your extra monthly expenditure for bragging rights for not having to mingle with the rabble. 😀
I suspect you may have some vested interested in this site, which after all is CONDO site. It’s good they at least allow some dissenting opinion, because this article, as others have mentioned, deliberately obscures details that would illustrate just how much MORE you pay to live in a condo each month.
Oh, and MANY trustworthy apartment building companies still include utilities in the monthly rent, and their buildings are often excellent considering their age, and MUCH more solidly built than today’s overpriced, hollow cookie-cutter condos. Homestead, for starters, is phenomenal about maintaining their properties.
OTPPosted at 15:13h, 29 May
I was just checking company that you recommended and I can tell you that they do not have any apartments in downtown Toronto area at all. One that they have north of Bloor St. in midtown price is high almost as condo rental. So some people love their time and time is money. I am one of them! If I spend 2 hours a day traveling to my downtown work from far far away home that could be for me way much more costly than $850/month. As for example I make $80/hour and my time is more valuable than time spending in TTC or paying expensive parking in downtown or getting stuck in traffic jam. I walk 5 minutes to my work and I am in 5 minutes back to my home. Money can not buy that and I love my condo, air condition in hot humid summer day (you can’t put in apartment its illegal), 24/7 security (my friends apartment building got robbed a few times this year). Did I mention rooftop swimming pool and first class gym!? I guess some people like to live far and spend lots of time commuting to their work to save a couple of dollars but there is many like myself who make money and willing to have more free time and live close to work and in luxury condos!
By the way heads up to this website that allow different opinions opinions to be posted! At least we can agree on something @Rex
LaluPosted at 10:26h, 10 June
We never use the machines in our building, but they are top notch. Typically do laundry on weekend at our house outside the city.
DJPosted at 15:56h, 05 May
The most important difference is that the Residential Tenancies Act caps annual rent increases for rental units that came on to the market prior to 1991 only. The rates change each year but have remained modest in recent history. A tenant who rents a new condo (built after 1991), is not subject to the same protection.
ChasPosted at 08:38h, 08 May
Anyone interested in buying a Condo in Ontario…#1 Make sure it is located with easy access to Toronto and #2 Make sure it is sitting on that place called LAKE ONTARIO
DonnaPosted at 14:37h, 08 May
Thank you Pauline! This article is so pro condo. It is also so very out of touch with the majority of people trying to find affordable living, while working 2 jobs, and not have their entire paycheque go to exorbitant rents, whether condo or apt. If the city, province, and government don’t see this, they have blinders on.
To also assume that apt. dwelling means a step down from condo living as far as cleanliness, maintenance, and overall standard of living is rather like saying people who rent/own a condo have higher values/sense of worthiness than those who rent apts. I have seen horrendous lack of attention to maintenance/repairs/concern in a number of rented downtown condos where “..the attention that pride of ownership..” should have been present. Personally, as an apt. renter, I have the same ethic: to live in a clean, bright building with neighbours who appreciate their common areas like it’s their home – because it is.
LalaPosted at 17:47h, 11 May
Problem is that in most apartment buildings tenants do not appreciate common areas and throw garbage around. There is huge difference in cleanness condo building vs. apartment building!
RexPosted at 15:04h, 29 May
That’s an outright lie. Unless you live in an abject slum — an increasing unlikelihood in the GTA as more and more apartment buildings are owned by companies that know the value of maintaining them — “most” apartment buildings are not littered with garbage, and tenants know better because, as Donna says, IT’S THERE HOME, and they do as they see their neighbours doing when it comes to treatment of the facilities. In fact, apartment renters today KNOW going in that they’re actually getting a better deal than the would at ANY condo in the GTA, and “most” of them live accordingly. Some have to because, believe it or not, +/- $40,000 is STILL an average wage in this town. Others prefer to rent, utilities included, because they prefer to invest their money wisely without the hidden expenses and additional responsibilities commonly associated with condo/home ownership.
Clearly “Lala” is a shill for the condo industry.
And trust me, I know multiple people in multiple condo buildings where cleanliness is only in their minds because, visually, the building is newer and just LOOKS cleaner, but a closer look reveals that dirt and grime has already begun to show itself, along with poor construction issues in a couple of cases, plus plenty of evidence that not ALL tenants in condos actually behave better or more cleanly than the typical apartment dweller.
LaluPosted at 10:28h, 10 June
Our building is so well maintained. Park WIllow management takes care of everything ..and fast. I’m only there for four nights a week anyway..it’s a place in Toronto to rest during the work week.
DaniellePosted at 19:34h, 27 October
I can attest to the fact that the owner of a condo can ask you to leave at anytime. It is a HUGE inconvenience to have your life lay in the hands of someone else, not knowing when you can be uprooted from the place you call home.
RafaelPosted at 09:24h, 03 January
Im a newcomer to Toronto and would like to know what are the extra costs if renting an apartment. Do we pay monthly maintenance fee in an apartment or is this included in the monthly rent? What about the annual property tax? Renting an apartment, I also pay this tax? Thank you!
Zee JPosted at 12:05h, 26 January
Hello Rafael renting condo or apartment includes maintenance fee. Some properties include utilities some not (such as electricity, water etc) You do not need to pay property tax only your rent!