Some people believe that if you choose to rent an apartment you're simply throwing your money away. While it's true that you don't build up equity in a home, there are benefits to renting an apartment. Renting means that you're not bound to the property outside of anything spelled out in your lease.
1. You're Not Bound to a Mortgage
When you rent an apartment, you're most often tied to a yearly lease for a certain amount of rent. While mortgage rates are at all-time lows, you still have to pay utilities, semi-annual taxes, mow your own lawn, perhaps even clean out a septic system every few years depending on your location. Renting an apartment can be more expensive on a monthly basis, but that rent may be all you have to pay.
2. You're Not Bound to Owner's Upkeep
Signing an apartment lease frees you from most homeowner upkeep. You still may have to pay full or partial utilities, however. But often you can rent with all utilities paid. But it's a perk not to have to replace old appliances should they go on the blink.
For instance, if your water heater goes out, you call maintenance or your landlord. If your home is furnished and the stove breaks, again you call maintenance or your landlord. You get the picture. The responsibility for upkeep rests with the property owner, not with the tenant, unless it is specifically spelled out in the lease.
3. You're Not Bound to Yard Work
Let's say you're renting a one- or two-bedroom apartment in a duplex, not in your standard apartment building. In larger sets of apartments, maintenance or a lawn crew usually mows the lawn and tidies up the yard so that it is safe for tenants.
However, often in smaller rentals, you may ask permission to mow your own yard if you enjoy doing that kind of thing or it may be written in your lease that it is part of your tenancy. But yards are generally your landlord's responsibility.
4. You're Not Bound to A No-Pet Policy
Yes, legally you can have a pet if your landlord agrees to it in your lease. You usually have to pay a hefty pet deposit along with your move-in deposit. Most apartments allow small-medium dogs and cats, often requiring them to be declawed so they don't damage existing furniture or window screens.
It can get expensive to repair apartments where pets soil the carpeting, makes holes in door and window screens and dirty the paint job. The pet deposit protects you against over-the-top fees to fix things like couches that cats have used as scratching posts.
So Is It Better to Be a Tenant or a Homeowner?
That depends on your perspective. It really comes down to rent and what is included in your lease. Renters often like the luxury of not worrying about fixing appliances should they break, mowing lawns or fixing leaky roofs. Real estate is great to own, but it can be expensive as a whole and the entire burden is on the homeowner for taxes and upkeep. Renters aren't bound to anything but a lease.