Private vs. Corporate

Finding a place to live in Portland, especially right now, can be tough. It is hard to find the right space, at the right price and in the right neighborhood-especially if you have special needs like pets or smoking.

Finding a place to live in Portland, especially right now, can be tough. It is hard to find the right space, at the right price and in the right neighborhood—especially if you have special needs like pets or smoking.

Making an important decision early can start your search off strong, and ensure better chances of success: Should you rent from a property management company or an individual who owns the dwelling?

Both have their benefits, but in certain situations, you’ll yield noticeably different results.

A landlord usually owns the space you’ll be occupying within a house, multiplex or small apartment building. They may only own that one property as an investment, or perhaps a handful. This may be the first time they have chosen renters, or perhaps it has been 20 years. Regardless, this person will probably not have the volume or expertise of a management company.
Choose a landlord when your personal situation is atypical.
If you have pets, this is you. Landlords are in the position to make decisions subjectively, based on how they feel about you living on their property. Being polite, well spoken and honest about your situation can help. Try to have an extended conversation with this person before viewing the place. Mention your pets or any special requirements ahead of time. Put all your cards on the table over the phone. If the person is open to meeting you after this disclosure, chances are they are open to being accommodating.

Another time to choose a landlord is when you make less than three times the amount of rent per month, or are unable to document your earnings. A landlord may be willing to rent to a person whom they have met and are impressed by, even if they cannot fulfill this standard requirement.

Also, if you have poor credit, a landlord is the way to go. Many say over the phone that they perform credit checks, but do not always do so when it comes down to it. If negative items do surface on a credit report, some landlords will be more open to hearing your explanations.

If you want to build a solid, friendly long-term relationship with the person you’re renting from, pick a landlord. Many do their work in addition to day jobs, and do not view interactions with you as on the clock. You may very well get quicker responses in emergencies and lockouts, because you are a high priority.
A property management company may run a handful of apartments or a cluster of houses, or in some cases, both. In Portland, these businesses come in many sizes, and some have distinct personalities.

If you have pristine credit and earn a healthy salary, this is a good option for you. Management companies apply a cookie-cutter approach to their applicants: meet their criteria and you are in. These requirements are usually available in writing or on company websites.

If you are looking for something very particular, a management company can help you. With a wide range of spaces turning over more frequently, chances are if you keep in touch with an agent or building manager, a suitable situation will materialize.
Property management companies often have resident managers onsite to respond to maintenance concerns, collect rent and keep tenants happy. This is a benefit, especially if renting an older apartment with older plumbing, fixtures and elevators that are more likely to need ongoing repair.
If you think you would like to move into a small apartment and then upsize in the same building, a management company can help you make an easy transition at low cost to you. Management companies especially want good residents to stay, and the longer your tenancy the more symbolic currency you hold.

Deeda Schroeder was a resident manager for KBC Management for three years, and currently manages the Jeanne Manor Apartments in the South Park Blocks.