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What is a Single Family Rental & How to Find Them

By: Emily Kho
September 14, 2021

The housing market has something for everyone. In particular, single-family rentals are becoming increasingly popular with continued growth.

If you are looking for single-family rental options, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together this in-depth guide to single-family rentals, including what they are and how to find them.

In this guide, we’ll cover:

What Is a Single-Family Rental?

When it comes to home rentals, you’ll either find single-family or multi-family homes. The primary difference between single-family and multi-family homes is that single-family homes consist of one dwelling unit and are typically standalone homes.

Alternatively, multi-family homes can have multiple properties within them, typically ranging between two and four. Multi-family homes also go by other names, such as duplexes, triplexes, or quadplexes, and can also be as large as apartment complexes with hundreds of units.

Although they are becoming increasingly popular, single-family rentals are generally more difficult to find and have higher demand.

As you can imagine, renting a single-family unit comes with its own set of pros and cons. Deciding if a single-family unit is suitable for you will require you to look at both sides.

Pros of Single-Family Rentals

Now that you have a better idea of what a single-family rental is, it’s time to look at some of the pros and cons to decide if it is a good fit for you. Single-family rentals are popular for a reason, as they provide renters with a long list of benefits. Here are just a few to give you a better idea.

Greater Privacy

One of the most significant benefits of single-family rentals is heightened privacy. Since single-family homes are individual detached units, you don’t have any shared walls. You won’t have neighbors on top of you, below you, or on the sides of you.

If you like to play music, have friends over, or lounge in the yard, you don’t have to worry about disrupting anyone around you.

More Space

Single-family rentals typically provide you with more space than multi-family homes. These homes are detached, running approximately 2,500 square feet on average compared to 1,076 square feet for multi-family rentals.

When renting a single-family rental, you’ll also have access to spacious yards and patios. These housing options are great for dog owners or anyone needing a little extra space outside of the home.

Lease Flexibility

If you are renting a single-family home, you’re probably just renting from the individual owner of the property. This makes things like pet policies, lease extensions, etc., easier to negotiate since you speak directly with an owner versus a property management company.

Cons of Single-Family Rentals

While living in a single-family rental comes with its own set of benefits, it’s also worth acknowledging some of the negative aspects as well. That way, when you’re faced with making a decision, you can weigh the pros and cons and decide what your best fit is.

Here’s a list of some of the disadvantages of renting single-family homes.

More Expensive

Compared to multi-family rentals, single-family homes are in higher demand. As such, high demand drives costs up, making single-family homes the more expensive option.

Harder to Find

Going back to the high demand, single-family rentals also tend to be harder to find. Because of the high demand and low supply compared to multi-family rentals, you might find that you are searching for a much longer time for a single-family rental.

Lack of Amenities

In apartments, condos, and townhome buildings, you’ll have access to shared spaces like gyms and pools. When you rent a single-family home, you tend to lack access to these added amenities. Of course, there are exceptions, such as finding a home within a community, though these are few and far between.

More Work

Mowing your front lawn or repairing appliances becomes a hassle when you can’t call an apartment complex's maintenance crew. In single-family rentals, you will have to work closely with your landlord to determine who is responsible for covering maintenance work.

Commute

Single-family rentals are typically in suburban communities outside of cities. Your commute may be longer and you could be further from public transit access. Alternatively, multi-family units tend to be located more centrally, either downtown or close to public transportation options.

How to Find Single-Family Rentals

Now that you know all about single-family rentals, it’s time to take a look at how to find some in your area.

1. Start Searching Early

Because single-family rentals are hard to find, you want to give yourself plenty of time to search. Narrowing your options to single-family rentals will drastically limit the number of choices available to you. It’s better to start your search early. That way, you’ll be sure to find something you’re looking for in due time.

2. Be Ready to Strike Fast

If you find a single-family rental that fits your needs, move forward quickly, as it might be gone tomorrow. Since single-family rentals are so popular, you run the risk of limited availability in your area. Rather than letting something slip through the cracks, be ready to strike fast.

Knowing what you are looking for is one thing, though it’s a whole different thing to know where to begin your searches. With so many other options to choose from online, searching through listings can become overwhelming. You can narrow down your selection by taking this Apartment Search Quiz. Here you’ll be able to specify different factors in your search like:

  • Commute (to work or school)
  • Eviction history
  • Household income
  • Lease terms (including length and additional signers)
  • Location (by city and neighborhood)
  • Monthly rent maximum
  • Move-in date (you can specify urgency)
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Other features (like hardwood floors, dishwasher, AC, etc.)
  • Parking
  • Pets
  • Preferred amenities (select in-unit laundry for basement apartments)
  • Priorities (choose from your features, location, or price)

Apartment List has single-family rentals. However, they aren’t as prominent as multi-family rentals. You’ll find similar trends on any rental website. Check out local housing groups on Facebook, where homeowners often list their homes for rent. Real estate-focused websites like Zillow could have what you are looking for.

4. Watch Out for Rental Scams

43.1% of renters have encountered an apartment listing they have suspected was fraudulent, according to an Apartment List rental fraud report. As if that figure isn’t shocking enough, 5.2 million U.S. renters have lost money from one of these rental scams. Remember to be cautious and follow these tips for avoiding rental scams.

A few tips and tricks to help you avoid rental fraud include:

  • Visit the property in person
  • Verify the landlord
  • Ask to speak to current tenants
  • Rent from reliable property management companies
  • Don’t pay with cash or a wire transfer
  • Be careful with confidential information
  • Confirm prices and features before signing a lease

As a general rule of thumb, renting from an individual landlord may open the door for more scams. You are less likely to see these types of scams when renting from larger property management companies.

Final Thoughts

So, there it is. Now you know all there is to know about single-family rentals, including how to find them. The next step is for you to sift through all the details and figure out if the pros outweigh the cons for you. If they do, it’s time to get started right away on your search for your next single-family rental!

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EMILY KHO
Emily is a professionally trained SEO writer who covers a wide range of topics but specializes in business and hospitality content. With over a decade of professional writing experience in the hospitality industry, Emily comes from a strong background in the field backed with a BS from the world-renowned William F. Read More
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