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How to Rent Out Your House in Philadelphia

Renting out your house in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, can be a lucrative venture. But before you decide to invest in rentals, you need to be well-prepared. To ensure a successful and legally compliant rental experience, there are several crucial steps you should follow.

1. Understand the Law

Before you embark on the journey of renting out your house in Philadelphia, it's vital to have a comprehensive understanding of the landlord-tenant laws in the state. This knowledge will help you avoid legal pitfalls and protect your rights as a property owner. Here are some essential aspects of Pennsylvania's landlord-tenant laws:

  • Security Deposits: Pennsylvania law limits the security deposit you can charge to no more than two months' rent for the first year of a lease, followed by one month's rent for each subsequent year.

  • Lease Agreements: Draft a clear and comprehensive lease agreement that adheres to Pennsylvania's legal requirements. Include all essential information, such as rent due dates, maintenance responsibilities, and any specific rules or regulations for your property.

  • Eviction Process: Familiarize yourself with the eviction process outlined in Pennsylvania law. You must follow proper procedures when dealing with troublesome tenants to avoid potential legal complications. Make sure to send proper notice before filing an eviction lawsuit.

  • Fair Housing Laws: Be aware of federal and state fair housing laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, familial status, age, or pregnancy status. Ensure you treat all prospective tenants equally and fairly.

  • Maintenance and Repairs: As a landlord, you have a legal obligation to keep your property in a safe and habitable condition. This includes making sure your property is free of safety hazards, including pests like mice or bedbugs.

A judge’s gavel on a desk.

2. Understand Landlord Responsibilities

As a landlord in Philadelphia, it's essential to be well-informed about your legal and ethical responsibilities towards your tenants. Knowing these responsibilities not only ensures legal compliance but also fosters a positive landlord-tenant relationship. Here are some key landlord responsibilities:
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  • Essential Services: Ensure that essential services such as heating, plumbing, and electricity are in working order and available to tenants throughout their lease term.

  • Privacy and Access: Respect your tenants' privacy rights. In most cases, landlords must provide reasonable notice before entering the rental property.

  • Lease Enforcement: Enforce the lease agreement consistently and fairly. Address lease violations promptly and according to the terms of the lease and applicable laws.

  • Rent Collection: Establish a clear rent collection process, including rent due dates, accepted payment methods, and late fees if applicable.

  • Record-Keeping: Maintain accurate records of all financial transactions related to the property, including rent payments, security deposits, and expenses.

  • Safety Compliance: Comply with all local building codes and safety regulations. Ensure that smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers are installed and functioning correctly.

3. Prepare Your Property

Before listing your property for rent, it's essential to make it attractive to prospective tenants. A well-maintained and appealing property is more likely to attract reliable renters. Here are some steps to prepare your property:

  • Clean and Repair: Thoroughly clean the property, and ensure all systems such as plumbing, electrical, and HVAC are in working order. This includes all appliances that come with the property.

  • Safety Measures: Install and maintain safety features as required by law. Ensure that all doors and windows have working locks, and if your property was built before 1978, you’ll have to test it for lead.

  • Curb Appeal: Enhance the property's curb appeal by maintaining the lawn, landscaping, and exterior.

The exteriors of a cluster of houses.

4. Set the Right Rent Price

Determining the appropriate rent for your Philadelphia property is crucial for attracting tenants and maximizing your rental income. Research the local rental market to understand current rates for similar properties in your neighborhood. Factors to consider when setting the rent include the property's location, size, condition, and amenities.

5. Market Your Property

To find suitable tenants, you'll need to effectively market your rental property. Utilize various marketing channels to reach a broad audience. Consider the following strategies:

  • Online Advertisement: Use popular rental websites and social media platforms to promote your property. Create appealing online listings with high-quality photos and detailed descriptions.

  • Yard Signs: Place a "For Rent" sign in front of the property to attract local renters.

  • Word of Mouth: Spread the word among friends, family, and colleagues who may know potential tenants.

  • Local Events: Participate in local community events or neighborhood gatherings to connect with potential renters.

6. Screen Tenants Carefully

When you receive rental applications, it's crucial to screen potential tenants carefully to ensure you select reliable renters. A thorough screening process should include:

  • Rental Application: Have all prospective tenants complete a rental application that includes their personal information, rental history, employment details, and references.

  • Background Checks: Conduct background checks to assess applicants' criminal history and credit. Check for any prior evictions or rental-related issues.

  • References: Contact previous landlords and personal references provided by the applicants to gather insights into their rental history and character.

  • Income Verification: Verify the applicant's income to ensure they can afford the rent. A general guideline is that rent should not exceed 30% of the tenant's monthly income.

Two stacks of American money on a table next to a small notepad and an iPhone open to the calculator.

7. Hire a Property Manager

Even after going through all of the necessary first steps, like preparing correctly and getting all of the right documents in order, property management isn’t easy.

Hiring a professional property manager can ease the burden while ensuring that your property is well-maintained and your tenants are satisfied. Here are some things a good property manager can provide you with:

  • Thorough Tenant Screening

  • Effective Marketing and Advertising

  • Efficient Rent Collection

  • Prompt and Cost-Effective Maintenance and Repairs

  • Legal Compliance

  • Time and Cost Savings

Conclusion

Renting out your house in Philadelphia, PA, can be a rewarding investment, but it requires careful planning, knowledge of the law, and responsible property management. The above tips are key steps to success in the rental market. To navigate the rental process with confidence and maximize your returns, reach out to TrustArt Realty.

five-star

TrustArt recently took over management of a building where I've been living since early this year. I worried about what the change in management would mean for me as an existing tenant here, but I've had a really positive experience so far. Ethan is an exceptionally kind and helpful property manager — he has consistently provided prompt, straightforward, and personalized help for any issues that have come up, and clearly cares about making sure that tenants have a positive experience living here. I really appreciate his clear communication and all of the updates and repairs he's handled for my apartment!

Cullan Bonilla Tenant