A landlord I can believe in
March 11, 2009 1:00 PM   Subscribe

Can anybody recommend a good Pittsburgh landlord?

My sweetie and I are moving to Pittsburgh very soon. We're in a mad dash to find a place to live and will be apartment/house hunting Sun-Tues of next week in order to find a place that's available April 1. Naturally, this limits our options.

We'd like a landlord that doesn't suck. Many of the places we've found on Craigslist that are available seem to be run by large management companies. Which ones should we avoid? Which ones are good?

Finally, anybody got a place for rent? We want something within easy walking range of cafes and restaurants. I guess that means Squirrel Hill or Lawrenceville? Any other suggestions?
posted by rbs to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're looking for walkable neighborhoods, don't rule out Greenfield/Bloomfield/Shadyside (ordered in expense of living there). I'm waiting for a place to open up in Greenfield myself for the next year, because I'd like somewhere central in Pittsburgh that I can bike/bus to Oakland but is also inexpensive and walkable. My friends have had good luck with Herbert Halsband Properties in the Shadyside/Friendship area, but looking online at their reviews people's opinions seems fairly mixed...I think it doesn't matter so much who you rent from, but where. Property management companies have different maintenance crews/apartment managers/etc. I don't know how direct you are, but you might get a good idea by politely asking your future neighbors about their experiences.

Also, check Google Transit for your possible daily trips. Parking in Pittsburgh is a pain, and if you can situate yourself somewhere with convenient transit stops to where you want to go, you'll save yourself much hassle down the line.

Anyway, best of luck. Mefi mail me if you find a nice place with other units that opens up in August...
posted by ayerarcturus at 1:19 PM on March 11, 2009

I live in Greenfield now and before that in Squirrel Hill. Squirrel Hill is fantastic if you like having shops and cafes right outside of your front door. Greenfield has a little less selection, but it has a grocery store and plenty of local merchants, plus I think the sense of community is a little stronger.

I lived in the Morrowfield Apartments over the Squirrel Hill tunnel and I really liked the maintenance company. Any problems were always fixed by the next day and the staff was always friendly. There was also an abundance of parking around the corner, which is something worth a few hundred dollars. I had a big sunny apartment on the 8th floor for not too much money. I live in a swell house now, but I do miss my nice view.

Stay away from Mozart properties. I have a few friends who lived in a cross section of developments, and I can tell you that they deserve their bad reputation. Yuck.

PM me if you have any specific questions about neighborhoods or locations. I know people living all over if you want a direct opinion.
posted by Alison at 1:37 PM on March 11, 2009

I lived in Squirrel Hill for two years during grad school (2006-2008). I lived in a small (12-unit) building on a street that otherwise consisted of regular homes and duplexes. The landlord was John C.R. Kelly Realty. I had no major problems with them. I did have a couple of maintenance issues crop up during the time I lived there (a leaky window one time; the whole building without hot water another time). Both requests were addressed promptly to my satisfaction. I always paid my rent on time and so had very little interaction with them until it was time to move out. After I gave them notice I would be moving out, they gave me a few phone calls to let me know when they'd like to show the apartment to prospective new tenants (i.e., they didn't just drop in unannounced, which was nice). So, all in all, I had a good experience with them -- no surprises, and no major problems. The building in question was very near the intersection of Bartlett and Wightman streets. It was very convenient to the shops, library, restaurants, bus stops, etc. The neighbors were all mostly quiet and well-behaved. I loved living there!
posted by Nothlit at 2:05 PM on March 11, 2009

I lived in Sq.Hill for many years, up until about 20 yrs ago. The best apartment I ever had was on Bartlett Street, just a few houses up from the Giant Eagle (that's the grocery store, and you pronounce it "Jon Ingle"). The landlady was a real sweetheart and didn't have me sign a lease. She just told me that she'd be a good landlady if I was a good tenant. I was, and she was. I moved from there to a 3rd-floor apartment a block away on Darlington, owned by a CMU professor.

I think a lot of those houses a block up and down Murray Ave's cross streets still have apartments in them, and are owned by people who actually live in them.

I know a lot of people who are happy in Lawrenceville. Butler Street is a great shopping/eating/bowling area.

Another nice, small, walkable neighborhood is Regent Square, just east of Squirrel Hill.

I've never rented from one of the big agencies, but in my apartment hunts I was least pleased with the places that the guy from Kelly Realty showed me. (Again, this was more than 20 yrs ago and things do change.)
posted by booth at 6:05 PM on March 11, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, all.
posted by rbs at 11:31 AM on March 12, 2009

There are a few places for rent (more for sale) in the Mexican War Streets, a Historic District on the North Side. Although we're a little light on the cute boutiques up here, there's a couple cafes and a few nice neighborhood bars, not to mention possibly the best damn barbecue ribs in town. You might also be able to find places in East or West Allegheny, too. All three of them are within walking distance of each other and Downtown; Oakland's about four miles. In all of these areas, you'd probably be dealing with individual owners, not management companies, except in the actual apartment buildings. (For what it's worth, on that score I hear good things about the Schoolhouse Apartments on Tripoli in East Allegheny.)
posted by FlyingMonkey at 3:03 AM on March 19, 2009

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