Many Pittsburgh homeowners are frustrated by the current state of landlord-tenant law, as many rights under current law are vested in the tenant. The owner’s frustration is especially evident in the city proper; Pittsburgh neighborhoods like Oakland and Bloomfield are full of college students who can be noisy, negligent with property, or behind on rent. However, a landlord has certain rights to his rental properties and can demand certain actions and behaviors from tenants that are perfectly legal. The following article will explore
some landlord rights in the areas of tenant relations and property management.
Rights of Landlords Renting Property in Pittsburgh, PA
One of the most important rights a landlord has is the right to evict tenants. There are three conditions under which a landlord can legally evict tenants from a rental property:
- The tenant has not paid the rent owed in full.
- The tenant’s lease term has ended and the owner wishes to put the property up for rent or sale.
- The tenant violated a section of the rental agreement (or lease).
Although there are fewer concrete rules outlining how an eviction notice should be served, the landlord’s case helps if you follow common sense.
First, the landlord should not serve an eviction notice by mail. Just as a citizen can ignore a jury summons saying they never received it, a tenant facing imminent eviction can simply deny that they ever received an eviction notice. The landlord has every right to indicate in the lease the maximum time allowed between the notice of eviction and the removal of the tenants. However, many homeowners choose not to do this; in which case, they are encouraged to consult the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951. It is the only rubric available for eviction of tenants in Pennsylvania.
The landlord can legally evict the tenant 30 days in advance for leases of less than 365 days (1 year) in duration. A 90-day notice is required for leases of one year or more. Some landlords do not use written leases with tenants. Legally, this is an inadvisable move; the landlord does not want to inadvertently assign rights to the tenant. However, if the landlord does not use written leases, the 30-day notice to vacate is standard.
If the tenant’s eviction proceedings are pending, the landlord’s best option is to keep written documentation of all communications, payments, and incidents with the tenants. The landlord should be prepared to show when a tenant stopped paying rent, how much the tenant owes, and how they violated the terms of the lease. If the tenant files a lawsuit against the landlord for eviction-related torts, this documentation is invaluable. To keep the law on your side, a landlord should not take rash action against a tenant facing eviction. The landlord must not use the police to forcibly evict the tenant before the end of the eviction notice period, nor must they resort to “dirty fighting tactics” such as blocking the tenant or cutting off all utilities to the home or rental unit. .
The following form can be used if the landlord wishes to circumvent the eviction notice requirements and take the eviction to magistrates court:
NOTICE TO LEAVE THE LEASED PROPERTY (NOTICE TO LEAVE)
The tenant agrees to waive certain legal rights as provided by the LANDLORD AND TENANT ACT OF 1951. The landlord and tenant shall not give notice to vacate and relinquish the leased property.
The tenant will be asked to vacate the leased property without prior notice under any of the following conditions.
- The tenant does not leave the property at the end of the lease term.
- The tenant breaches any of the terms and conditions of the lease.
- Tenant does not make, upon request, all rental payments and other payments when due.
__________________ Tenant’s Initials
Other Rights of Pittsburgh, PA Homeowners
The landlord has the right to charge the tenant late fees for overdue rent. It is recommended that the landlord disclose the amount of the expired penalty in the lease before the tenant signs it. The landlord also has the right to request a security deposit of up to two months rent inclusive. Pennsylvania state law prohibits the landlord from charging higher amounts; however, it is also a legal right of the landlord to collect a security deposit once a year, provided that each deposit due after the first year of rent does not exceed one month’s rent.
It is advisable for the landlord to return the security deposit to a tenant or tenants after the lease ends. However, a landlord may refuse to reimburse the tenant for part or all of the security deposit if the tenant has caused damage to the unit that is not the result of aging or natural wear and tear. To avoid legal disputes, the landlord must meticulously document the condition of the apartment before the tenant moves in and after the tenant leaves, including photographs of the interior and exterior of the unit. Landlords are required by law to provide a list listing tenant damage 30 days or less after tenants leave rental units.
Many legal problems with tenants can be avoided by carefully pre-screening all potential tenants. Although the law prohibits a landlord from turning tenants away on the basis of gender, race, creed, or other personal characteristics, landlords can reject tenant applications if tenants have bad credit, smoke, or have pets; All of these characteristics of the tenant can interfere with the rental process. The landlord has the legal right to conduct a background and credit check on the tenant. To avoid problems with late or nonexistent rent.
payments, the landlord should contact the potential tenant’s current employer and request pay stubs from any potential tenant as proof of their ability to pay the rent. Finally, because people are often prone to repeating the same behavior over and over again, referrals from former landlords are crucial to avoiding potential tenant problems.