There are good advantages to having the owner live in the same building with the tenant. The property will be well maintained. Repairs will be prompt. Security will be tight. The owner will make sure the locks to the building are always closed and in good shape. The lawn will be cut on a regular basis, and snow removal will be timely and extensive. The owner will expect that you will help to keep the property in good condition.
Overall, a long-term, stable relationship between a landlord and tenant based on mutual respect is what both parties are looking to achieve. Before you move in, do not be afraid to ask lots of questions about how your occupancy will work. Most owners like a prospective tenant who feels comfortable enough to ask enough questions so that you both know exactly what to expect.
Set some mutually acceptable ground rules before you move in. One you should definitely bring up is whether or not the owner will enter your apartment before notifying you. A written lease that provides advance notification should address this issue. If the landlord does not want to use a lease, or if there cannot be agreement, feel free to back off from renting the unit.
Expect the owner to be a little nosy and very protective of the building. The owner will also be protective of you as their tenant. The landlord may make note of who comes and goes into and out of your apartment. At the same time, the owner will not let unfamiliar people into the building, or people you have indicated are not allowed to visit you. For example, if you have teenagers, you may welcome the landlord informing you of their negative activities in the apartment while you are away at work.
If the owner has an allergy to cigarette smoking, or pet peeves, such as loud music playing during certain periods of time, this may present a conflict of interest. You may decide this is not a compatible renting situation.
The owner will expect the rent to be paid on time. This should not really be a problem if you have rented before, and are accustomed to notifying your landlord or property manager of late rent.
If you want to have a party in your apartment, let the owner know in advance. Do not surprise the owner with a lot of strange people coming and going in the building. Consider your notification as a courtesy to your neighbors.
The owner may get to know a lot about your personal life. At the same time, most landlords do not have a lot of time to get into their tenant’s business. Homeowners like their privacy, too. Some of the same issues you may have as a tenant, the owner may have as well. Open and honest communication before you move in will greatly decrease landlord and tenancy concerns.
In summary, renting from a landlord who lives in the same building means that you share most of the values of the owner. Or, you understand and accept their rules and behavior as it pertains to the property. It does not mean the owner is your parent, nor does it mean you have to behave like a teenager going through growing pains. Rather, the expectation is that both landlord and tenant have mutual expectations of apartment living, and both are comfortable sharing the same building space.