If you live near a university and are looking for housing, even if you're not affiliated with the university, you might want to investigate local condo complexes that have a central office. While many condo management companies handle only maintenance issues for residents, there are some who keep a list of condos up for rent by the owners -- and you might luck out and find the rare office that handle the rental process itself, making applications really easy to get.
Dividing the Complex
During your search, you may find three types of rental condo management companies. One is the typical condo management association that handles exterior maintenance and fee collection; actual rentals are handled by individual owners. Another type is the management association that has an office onsite and that keeps lists of either potential rentals in the complex, if the owners let them know, or a list of potential renters if people want to leave their contact information.
The third is the management association that sets aside some of the condos that either haven't sold or that are permanent rentals per the owners and runs these as if they were apartments, taking applications from people and assigning units. Again, some of these units may have owners, but the owners treat them more as investments and leave the rental tasks up to the management association. This third type is sometimes available in areas near universities because those areas are known for having large populations of people who need rental housing and who usually have at least the financial aid to provide it.
Make Sure You Know Who You're Reporting To
Should you try to rent a condo, always find out who you report to and who you treat as your landlord. For example, when you rent a condo directly from the owner, that owner is likely the person you call for repairs and who you send your rent to. Or, if the owner has had a real estate company advertise the unit, you might send your rent to the real estate company, who would then send it on to the owner. But if you're renting a condo through that third option of management, where some of the units are treated like apartments even though privately owned, you might pay your rent to the condo management or to the individual owner. You have to get that straightened out when you rent the place.
One thing to keep in mind is that resident-owners tend to take a dim view of resident-renters because the transient nature of renting often leads people to not be too concerned about how the complex looks. After all, renters aren't concerned with falling property values. If you rent in a condo complex, be on your best behavior. You will have much more harmonious relationships with your neighbors if you're quiet (use those headphones instead of blasting your music throughout the complex) and clean, and don't have several people stomping around all the time.
Start looking for rental condos by contacting management associations and real estate agents. Eventually you'll find a good selection of rental units.