How to Find Private Landlords: Unlocking Opportunities

Discover strategies to locate ideal private landlords and evaluate whether self-managing rental properties makes sense for your needs. We'll explore the advantages and challenges from both the tenants' and landlords' points of view.

By
Nichole Stohler
|
Last Updated
January 16, 2024
How to Find Private Landlords: Unlocking Opportunities

For tenants looking to maximize flexibility in a rental experience and rental property owners considering managing their own properties, private landlords could prove to be of significant value.

Private landlords offer a more tailored approach to renting that some landlords and tenants find appealing, but finding or becoming a private landlord also has unique challenges. This guide provides a balanced look at navigating the independent landlord path from both a tenant's and landlord's point of view.

You'll discover practical advice on how to find a private landlord in your area, we'll outline how private landlords typically operate independently to meet renter needs, and we'll explore the potential benefits and drawbacks tenants and landlords should consider.

What are private landlords?

Private landlords are individuals who own and directly manage rental properties like a condo, house, or apartment. Unlike typical property management companies that handle operations for numerous rentals, private landlords rent out and oversee a single property completely on their own in a rent-by-owner set-up.

This hands-on approach provides a more personalized and flexible rental experience for both tenants and landlords. Tenants get to work one-on-one with the property owner, and landlords retain full control over their investment properties.

Private landlords who own and manage their rental homes independently handle key tasks themselves, including:

  • Advertising available units on listing platforms.
  • Screening prospective tenants through background checks and interviews.
  • Collecting monthly rental payments.
  • Responding promptly to maintenance requests and issues.
  • Answering tenant questions regarding lease terms, rent amounts, policies, etc.

Opting for a private landlord can create the opportunity for tailored service, direct communication, and mutually beneficial landlord-tenant relationships.

How to find private landlords

If you prefer the personalized approach a private landlord can offer, here are some ways you can find a home managed by one:

  • Online platforms: Locally-based resources like Facebook Marketplace and neighborhood Facebook groups are great places to start your search. Private landlords frequently post available rentals there, allowing you to connect with them directly.
  • Rental sites: Listing sites such as Trulia, Zillow, Craigslist, HotPads, and ByOwner.com all help you find available houses or apartments. You can filter your search results by private rental listings to see a list of private landlords in your area.
  • Networking: Connecting with your personal circle can uncover leads as well. Ask friends, colleagues, and acquaintances if they can refer you to any independent landlords with properties for rent; these personal connections can provide trustworthy options.
  • Traditional media: Last but not least, don't forget about traditional channels like local newspapers, bulletin boards, and classified ads — landlords sometimes advertise local listings through these outlets.

Pros and cons of private landlords

Evidently, private landlords can provide a more personalized approach to renting. Before committing to this kind of property management, though, you should familiarize yourself with the associated trade-offs.

Pros

  • A hands-on approach: Renting from a private landlord promises direct communication and quicker responsiveness when it comes to maintenance or other rental-related concerns.
  • Flexibility and negotiation: Private landlords may offer more flexible lease terms and lower average rent prices than larger property management companies when they build a personal rapport with their tenants.
  • Individual attention: Because private landlords have less on their plate than property management companies, they can dedicate more attention to each of their tenants.
  • Potential cost savings: A rent-by-owner scenario can save tenants money, as the landlord may have fewer fees, be open to negotiation, and offer discounts.

Cons

  • Limited resources: Unlike property management companies, private landlords may have fewer resources to tap into for property maintenance, which can result in delays or slower response times for repairs.
  • Inconsistent policies: Private landlords can create their own particular rules and policies, leading to inconsistencies between rental properties. This can be challenging for tenants seeking a standardized approach to renting.
  • Lack of professionalism: Independently-owned properties might not have the same level of professionalism and organization as larger property management companies, potentially leading to hardship with communication and dispute resolution.
  • Limited availability: Private landlords have fewer rental properties to offer than larger companies, limiting the selection and making it harder to find the perfect rental that meets all your criteria.

Avoid a rental scam

Private landlords offer many benefits, but tenants should educate themselves on best practices to steer clear of rental scams:

  • Thoroughly research listings for red flags like suspiciously low rents or the same images being recycled across multiple listings.
  • Communicate only with owners or managers directly. Double check that you're using verified contact information.
  • Visit prospective rentals in-person before signing or paying. Scammers may make excuses not to show you rental listings.
  • Don't wire money upfront. Legitimate landlords prefer secure methods to pay rent.
  • Beware of high-pressure tactics. Trust your instincts if an offer seems too good to be true.

Being a private landlord vs. Using a property management company

Property owners seeking to maximize returns must decide between self-managing their investments or hiring a property management company to handle operations. The independent and managed routes each have their merits. Questions to ask yourself include:

Time and availability

Do you have the time to run day-to-day operations of your rental houses?

As a private landlord, you're in charge of daily operations like advertising, tenant screening, collecting rent payments, and maintenance. This requires a significant time commitment.

In contrast, a property management company takes care of these tasks, offering convenience for landlords with busy schedules or multiple properties.

Expertise and knowledge

Do you have the required expertise, or do you prefer the guidance of professionals?

Successful property management requires knowledge of lease agreements, local rental laws, and property maintenance. Being a private landlord can be rewarding if you have experience and expertise in these areas or are willing to learn.

Otherwise, a property management company can bring their expertise if you lack the necessary knowledge or prefer to rely on professionals.

Tenant relationships

Do you want direct relationships with your tenants or prefer a buffer?

As a private landlord, you can build personal relationships with your tenants. This can result in better communication, understanding of their needs, and potentially longer tenancies.

If you'd prefer letting someone else handle relationship-building, a property management company provides a buffer between you and your tenants, maintaining a professional distance.

Financial considerations

Is cost saving or convenience the priority for you?

Managing your own rental properties saves you money on property management fees. You'll have direct control over expenses and can potentially increase your profits.

If you decide that using a property management company is worth the cost, you can expect to pay a percentage of the monthly rent for their services. Weigh your financial situation against the convenience and expertise of a hiring a property manager.

Scale of properties

Can you realistically manage your rental portfolio on your own?

For landlords with a small number of properties, a hands-on approach is often manageable and rewarding.

However, if you have a large or expanding portfolio, the complexity of managing multiple properties might be better handled by a property management company, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your investment.

How do private landlords handle rental properties on their own?

To manage rental properties on their own, private landlords often turn to technology to simplify their business operations. Property management software like Azibo can prove particularly helpful.

Azibo helps landlords handle various aspects of their business, including rent collection, tenant screening, lease agreements, and repair requests. Using an all-in-one platform means landlords can go to one place manage all their investment property operations.

Private landlords

Whether you're searching for a private landlord or looking into becoming one, defining your priorities should be your first step. With the help of this guide, renters can then identify where to find private landlords to reach out to, and landlords can educate themselves on considerations to being an independent landlord.

By understanding your preferences and weighing the trade-offs, you can take steps toward a mutually beneficial rental experience.

How to find private landlord FAQs

How can I stand out as a tenant when dealing with private landlords?

Create a strong rental resume showcasing your reliability as a tenant. Be proactive in communication, demonstrate your financial responsibility, and make clear that you can follow lease terms.

What does FRBO stand for?

FRBO stands for "for rent by owner." It's a term used in the real estate industry to indicate that a rental property is being leased directly by the property owner rather than through real estate agents or property management companies.

Nichole Stohler

Nichole co-founded Gateway Private Equity Group, with a history of investments in single-family and multi-family properties, and now a specialization in hotel real estate investments. She is also the creator of NicsGuide.com, a blog dedicated to real estate investing.

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