CRB Program Blog

Identifying the Benefits of Renting Apartment vs. Buying Condo

Posted by Ted Whitehead on Sun, Jul 03, 2011

Renting vs. buying; a common conundrum for those looking to infiltrate the housing market and maintain control over where you put your money. With rising property values, active markets, and endless properties available, where do you even begin to know if renting your apartment is the right decision for you?

Let’s start with a little clarification. There are a wide variety of resources for consumers looking for an apartment to rent. However, the terminology used can be confusing. What is the difference between an apartment rental and a condominium? These terms are often used interchangeably and may not have any noticeable effect on the tenant. By simply looking at the outside of a building, it is impossible to tell the difference. Legally, there are a few significant differences, as distinguished by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation .

Condominium (or "condo”) is a legal term that specifies a particular piece of property (usually an individual unit) is individually or privately owned. The shared areas of the building are associated with the individual ownership, but maintained and operated by an association of owners that act on behalf of the whole. Examples of shared areas include hallways, gym facility, parking garages, heating systems and elevators. These associations are often called ‘strata councils’ and empower the owners to make decisions and be responsible for maintenance of the building. Condominium rentals do not usually put tenants on the strata council. That is reserved for individual owners and/or landlords.

In contrast, leased units usually exist in a building owned by a single developer or landlord. The tenants of the building are all responsible to the same entity and that developer or landlord is solely responsible for maintenance of the shared areas. This is very different than a condominium building in which each unit is owned individually and may be occupied by either the owner or a rental tenant. Shares of an apartment building may be offered to the tenant as part of a co-op.

The benefits of signing a lease instead of a mortgage are vast. Here are a few of the benefits of renting an apartment:

Renting gives you the freedom to move as needed

If flexibility is necessary in your career, as is normal when first starting out, renting allows you access to fixed annual leases, monthly leases, or sublets, as per the Residential Tenancies Act.

Renting brings less unexpected costs

Another thing to consider in the way of liability is insurance. Property taxes are usually the responsibility of the land owner, who also assumes the liability risk if someone injures himself/herself on the property. Thus, tenant insurance costs far less than home insurance. As a tenant, you essentially insure your personal possessions and your own limited liability. Generally expenses aren’t a surprise when renting; they’re consistently limited to rent, tenants insurance, and utilities.

You don’t have to DIY

Renters have the piece of mind that maintenance and repairs are not their own responsibility. Landlords are accountable for ensuring the rental unit is in a good state of repair, even if the tenant is aware of the the tenant was aware of problems in the unit before they moved into it, or if the landlord puts into the lease that the tenant is responsible for maintenance. The tenant, however, is responsible for keeping the unit clean, up to the standard that most people consider ordinary or normal cleanliness. The tenant is also responsible for repairing or paying for any damage to the rental property caused by the tenant, their guests or another person living in the rental unit.

You can get the modern look for less

First-time home buyers often have to look at more dated homes needing updates and repairs. If you’re looking for a more modern space, renting is likely a better option to have all the updated appliances and finishes in a home that’s already been renovated by the homeowner.