Renting Duplexes

More and more renters are looking for alternatives to basic (and outdated) apartment complexes. Single family homes for lease may seem like the obvious answer. However, many renters do not necessarily want the full responsibility that comes with private home leasing. So what are a renter's options? The answer may be duplexes rental.

What is a Duplex?

A duplex is a residential building that is split up into two separate units; each with its own private entrance. The building can be divided into an upper and lower unit or side by side units. There is only one common wall or ceiling between the two units.

In most duplexes, each unit has its own separate electrical lines, water supply lines, and HVAC/heating system. For many duplexes with basements, that is also divided and separated by a common wall.

Pros and Cons of Duplex Rentals

Like any residential dwelling, there are pros and cons to living in a duplex. Individual renters need to weigh their options carefully when considering a duplex.

Pros

  • More privacy—only one wall, so less walls to share.
  • More space—duplex units usually offer more square footage than most traditional apartments.
  • More storage—most duplexes typically have more storage within the unit.
  • Better leasing options—like stand-alone homes for lease, landlords of duplexes generally offer longer lease terms.
  • Less rental increases—because the lease terms are longer, renters are not hit with yearly rental increases

Cons

  • No absolute privacy—there is still a close neighbor and some noise to deal with.
  • No on-site maintenance - renters would be responsible for much of the smaller and mid-range maintenance at their expense.
  • Shared exterior space—the front and rear yards, as well as garage and/or carport(s) are shared by both renters in a duplex.
  • More utilities to cover - apartment complexes usually cover at least water and sewer, and perhaps a portion of the heating utility (hot water). This expense would be reflected in the monthly rental rate. But in a duplex, the renter is responsible for all the utilities

What to Look for in a Duplex

If a renter decides that a duplex is a good fit, then the next step is to create a checklist that will keep them focused on finding the right unit. Here is a general guide of what to look for in a duplex.

  • Eliminate exterior maintenance responsibilities by considering condominium association complexes, especially those that are made up of duplexes, triplexes, or quad buildings. Associations usually cover exterior landscaping, snow removal, tree and shrub care and trash removal. Most associations also cover water and sewer, another item a renter may not have to worry about. These items would typically be included in the monthly lease payments.
  • Find a duplex that offers ample off-street parking. Many renters have multiple vehicles and it can be a real headache if parking is an issue within a neighborhood or complex.
  • A renter should research city ordinances and codes, as well as any association restrictions and rules before signing a lease on a duplex to avoid unintentional fines being assessed against them.

Top 5 Routes for "Renting Duplexes"

  1. Rent.com This is a very popular site for both renters and landlords. It is very user-friendly, with plenty of filters and tools to help a renter find results that closely match their criteria.
  2. Forrentbyowner.com Created for home owners who prefer to self-manage, this website does provide some good leads, though not in every neighborhood.
  3. Zillow.com This well-known site is not just for homes to buy. Zillow also lists homes and multi-family units for lease too.
  4. Showmetherent.com This equally popular site has a great feature where each listing shows when it was last updated as well as its current availability.
  5. Homes.com This site also offers listings for senior housing and off-campus units for students.

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