Updated August 5, 2022.
When your experience as a property owner includes great renters in your Pittsburgh rental property, it can be tempting to assume smooth sailing is ahead.
However, as your collection of rental homes grows in the Pittsburgh area, there's a decent chance that you'll eventually have a resident that gives you some trouble. Sailors, take warning!
Whether there are miscommunications, property damages, or rent collection is running late due to nonpayment, you'll need all your mental resources as a Pittsburgh rental property owner to turn the situation around. Realistically, you may also want to turn to a trusted Pittsburgh property management company for some guidance if things seem to be getting out of hand. Here are some of our top tips for investors who want to Rentwell®.
Fancy legal note: Of course, this article is not an attorney—so while we're sharing some generally good information, we always recommend working with your attorney or an experienced local team like Rentwell to ensure you stay on the right side of the law. Being on the wrong side can be worse than a non-paying renter!
Deep Breaths Go a Long Way
Folks, it's not just for self-help books: In the early stages of a conflict with a resident, you really can shape the outcome by being a calm and patient voice in the conversation. It doesn't take a guru to point this one out.
If you've ever tried to argue with someone who was being calm and patient with you, you know that it's harder to stay in an elevated emotional state with that person keeping the tone soft and positive. You can be that person with your residents! Start by trying to hear their story and see the situation from their point of view; if you're feeling adventurous today, you can even try giving your renter the benefit of the doubt.
Many misunderstandings are cleared up this way before a mistake in communication boils over into a conflagration. As the professionals in Pittsburgh property management, we want you to remember: Only YOU can prevent verbal wildfires!
Try Not to Rent to Friends and Family
Does this one seem harsh? While your aunt or your old college roommate may seem like an ideal tenant placement and an opportunity to save a little money in marketing your property to prospective tenants, it is best to avoid renting to people you happen to love.
The tone of those relationships has already been set outside of the professional sphere, and even outstanding family members may decide that the 'friends and family discount' also applies to many of the rules you've set up for your property. The last thing you want to have to 'discover' during the cleanup after a gnarly party is that your aunt is a professional beer pong champion: Who knew?
By sticking with acquaintances—or strangers—as your future renters, you allow the relationship to maintain a professional tone from the beginning, making your expectations clear. If you do rent to friends and family, make sure you talk through the rules from the start, so they know that the renting relationship is going to be a professional one—not a casual arrangement.
Did You Get That in Writing?
As you notice multiple 'frustrations' (or even just one major issue with a resident), start keeping track. Honestly, keeping records of your interactions with your renters is a good idea even before a conflict arises, since it helps you see later on whether there have been more positive interactions than negative ones. Consider that some free life wisdom from the experts here at Rentwell®.
We know everyone is supposed to get along, but it's a fact of life that property owners and renters don't always 'gel' with each other very well. Sometimes, though, the unpleasant conversations or behaviors are part of a pattern. If you eventually have enough reason to evict a renter, you're better off showing clear records of when things went sour.
If you're starting to reach the point where eviction is looking more and more like a good idea, work with an expert in Pittsburgh property management to see if the train has really left the station. A professional can often pull a situation back from the brink.
The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men
While it's lovely when a good conversation or a compromise during tough times can help your resident out and get everyone back on track, there are some problematic renters who aren't interested in changing. No matter how much you try, sometimes the best intentions derail—or never had a chance in the first place.
If a renter chooses not to respect you or the rules of your property, there's a chance that they are 'Professional Tenants.' This is an industry term linked to the idea that knowing one's rights can occasionally lead people to try to take advantage of the law, paying the least possible amount and narrowly avoiding eviction.
The best way to avoid this situation is with careful reference checks during the tenant screening stage—but don't beat yourself up if you occasionally end up with someone who tries to take advantage of you. You can often avoid this issue from the start if you're working with the right property management in Pittsburgh.
Property Management Helps You Get Some Distance
The frustrating reality is that sometimes in your 'career' as a Pittsburgh rental property owner, you may have a difficult enough renter that you have to initiate eviction proceedings.
Doing this legally (the best way to do it) and with the least possible expense for you (an even better way to do it) can be a challenge. Having a local team on your side that provides property management services can really smooth the process out and give you the crucial resources you need to hit the ground running.
Often, professional, full-service property management can help you avoid eviction in the first place by nipping issues in the bud. A property manager also happens to operate as your buffer between renters: you get relief and the advantage of our great documentation protocols. We get the satisfaction of another job well done.
Want to start taking advantage of our resources and skills for free? Get in touch with us to access our Guidebook for a First Time Investor! It's got tips and insights you need to avoid many of the DIY mistakes we listed above so that you can Rentwell®.