Nancy Simmons Starrs is president and founder of Apartment Detectives, a D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia apartment search service. 

During the course of my work day, when my clients are comparing their rental home options, they will often ask what the differences are between renting a home from an apartment community or renting from an individual owner.

There are pros and cons to both, so here are some:

Renting from an apartment community

 • Rental apartment communities will typically have a maintenance staff either working at the property or working from the main office. Having that staff readily available makes maintenance of the property and fixing broken down items within the apartments much easier to get done in a timely manner.

 • Apartment communities in some cases offer amenities like a fitness center or a pool. This eliminates the travel time of going to the gym and will save you the cost of a gym membership. This is handy for those of us for whom just getting out the door to the gym is half the battle. For those of you with stronger resolve, this may not be a problem.

 • An apartment community in some cases will have a concierge that will receive packages, keep your dry cleaning for pick up and delivery and sometimes refer you to pet sitting services and restaurants in the area.

 • In some cases, an apartment community will have social events for the tenants.

 • Rents cannot typically be negotiated in a rental community.

 • Security deposits in apartment communities are typically less than one month’s rent or lower.

 • Amenity or administrative fees are often charged to the tenant and can be $300 to $500. These fees often take the place of a move-in fee.

 • Upfront pet fees can be $300 to $750.

 • Monthly pet rents are typically higher.

Renting from an individual owner

 • If you rent from an individual owner, it is possible to negotiate a rent amount.

 • Security deposits are typically one to two months rent.

 • If you rent in a condo or a coop, move-in fees are typically lower than an apartment community.

 • It is possible to negotiate pet fees and pet rents.

 • If the owner has not hired a property manager, you will have to call the owner to have items within the rental home fixed.

 • Amenities like fitness centers, pools and a concierge may be included, but there is not an amenity fee charged to the tenant, in most cases.

 • Individually owned rental properties will offer you more of a variety of properties, including condos, coops, single-family houses and townhouses as options.

 • Single-family houses and townhouses can offer the benefit of outdoor space or a yard.

 • In a single-family house or a townhouse, you will be responsible for lawn care in most cases.

 • Individually owned properties may have higher-end appliances and finishes than apartment communities.

When choosing the right type of property, it really mainly comes down to personal preferences and what your needs are in a rental home.

You just have to decide which option is the best fit for you that will be a wonderful place to call home.

Read Nancy Simmons Starrs’s previous columns: