Condos vs. Apartments: What’s the Actual Difference?

Condos vs. Apartments

Many blog posts on the internet will have you believe that it is some level of a challenge to understand the difference or differences between an apartment and a condo. The fact of the matter is that it is not difficult in the least. It’s actually very simple. While condos and apartments do share a list of similarities (and a list of differences), you only need to uncover one singular factor to understand if they are looking at a condo or an apartment.     

Now, this post could have you read all the way to the bottom before you finally learn what that one, singular, defining detail is. But, what’s the point of that?

The only thing you need to know in order to determine whether a unit is a condo or an apartment is who owns it. That’s it.  The answer to the question stems directly from ownership.  Is that simple or is that simple?

The only thing you need to know in order to determine whether a unit is a condo or an apartment is who owns it. That’s it.


Condos are private residences. Each suite owned by separate individuals and/or corporations. So, you may own a condo unit in a building and I may own the unit right next to you.  As owners of these private residences we have, virtually, full say as to whether we want to live in the unit, or rent it out to a tenant, thereby making us landlords. We would be responsible for the tenant in our unit but we are not responsible for all of the tenants in the building. As landlords, we may live in a different unit in the building but are not required to be on site. We have complete discretion as to who is approved to rent our units. So, condos can be both owned and rented out by a respective owner. *A small disclaimer here: while owners decide how they want to use their units, they will have to abide by the condominium by-laws within the building(s). This is not important to the understanding of this post’s subject and will be covered in a separate post.


An apartment is a rental property that is usually owned and managed by a property management company. These units are never available for purchase by individuals. So, you cannot own a unit in an apartment building and neither can I.  Like condos, apartments are located in residential buildings or complexes. In an apartment building, all of the units are the same, the owner is the same, and the tenants all follow the same guidelines for renting a unit. Every tenant reports to the same property manager, who can typically be found in the leasing office with employed leasing agents (to assist current residents and lease other units) at the front of the community or within the complex.


Many condo owners vs. a single Property Management Company

So, the primary difference between condos and apartments is that individual condo units within the same building can be owned by many different people while individual apartment units in the same building cannot – all of these units are owned and managed by one entity.


Perhaps the primary difference between condos and apartments as much information as you’d like. Maybe you want to know more.  If so, there are a number of characterics that render condos and apartments both similar and different.


Condo amenities can be quite similar to what you’ll find in an apartment building. Of course, they will vary based on how nice the building is but can include anything many things like a  game room, bowling alley, pool,  gym and guest suites, library, business centre to name a very limited few.

It is within the four walls of condo units where things will differ the most. The features here are sometimes more unique and upscale with things like granite countertops, hardwood floors and vaulted ceilings. since each condo is custom to what the owner wants, you may see some upgrades in one unit, but not in another, if looking at multiple places in the same condo building.   This is because quality amenities can create higher property values for owners.

Apartment amenities, as mentioned above can be similar to those found in a condo but are, generally, not as luxurious.   Though many newer apartments also offer some luxury amenities, most still offer more basic amenities.  It really depends on the area and the quality and age of the apartment. The units within an apartment buildings are, virtually, identical, marking a stark contrast between condos and apartments.

Cost of Renting

I’m sure you’re thinking, at this point, that a condo is more expensive to rent than an apartment. The answer to your question is yes and no. A condo will, generally, cost more than an apartment with some caveats. If a condo and an apartment are in the same neighbourhood than they could very well be similar in price and, of course, this will depend the quality of the respective rentals. If one is more upgraded and offers more amenities than the other, then it will be priced accordingly. That being said, if all things are equal between a specific apartment and condo, 9 our of 10 times, condo will be more expensive.

Rent for an apartment is almost always a fixed amount for the duration of the lease. Most increases, if they’re going to happen, occur when it’s time to renew. Some apartments offer month-to-month or short-term leases, but the agreements are usually for a year. Apartment rent often depends on the market rate and unit availability.

There’s no variable when paying rent in a condo. Just like with an apartment, what’s set in your lease is your rent. However, property owners decide on the cost of renting their condo, which means the dollar amount can differ between units. As with apartments, most increases occur when it’s time to renew.

There a many other costs to consider when renting but there not important to the understanding of this post’s subject. That being said, some costs to consider include: renter’s insurance, utilities, key and damage deposits, and moving costs.


No matter where you live, maintenance issues will inevitably arise. Whether the issue is fixed by you, the landlord or a maintenance team depends on whether you’re in a condo or an apartment.

In a condo,  the responsibility for such repairs or maintenance falls on either you or the landlord (or both). This, ultimately, comes down to the details in your lease agreement.  

In apartment living, you will likely learn that your apartment building offers free maintenance, either  around-the-clock or, during set hours, meaning that renters are not responsible for most repairs. The lease agreement for apartments will also outline these details.

Rules and Regulations

Choose a condo, there will be rules. Choose an apartment and there will be rules. It doesn’t matter where you live, there are always rules to adhere to. Why? Because everyone has the right to the legal enjoyment of the place they call home and no one person should be allowed to interfere with that enjoyment. Think noise in the middle if the night, think cigarette smoke, think a meth lab in your neighbour’s unit. Yes, rules exist for a reason.  

In a condo, the residential guidelines for the building will likely be set by the Board of Directors in the condo corporation. For instance, there may be rules against keeping trash outside of your front door, picking up pet waste, and not leaving personal items around the common areas.  On top of the condo board’s rules, or by-laws, individual landlords may have their own rules for their respective tenants to adhere to.

With an apartment’s property management company, you’ll also find guidelines regarding trash and pet waste in the community, but every tenant must follow the same rules when it comes to the interior of the apartment as well. You’ll, generally,  find that condo owners often have more lenient guidelines. It just depends on the owner!

As far as the differences between condos and apartments, the above just about covers it.  There are some additional details and nuances but none are written in stone and can vary from case to case.  As I mentioned at the top of this post, while there are a great many details linking and differentiating condos and apartments, the primary difference is simple to understand: Individual condo units within the same building can each have different owners while individual apartment units within the same building are all owned by one entity.