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Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant Laws

Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant LawsThis article is intended to be an online resource for Pennsylvania landlords.  We summarize key Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant laws that are most applicable to residential rental units.

This article is not qualified for legal advice.  Individuals seeking guidance need to work with a legal advisor who is qualified in the jurisdiction.  Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Laws and statutes may vary from county to county or city to city, this article provides state-level laws and statutes. 

Also, laws and statutes are subject to change and may cause sections of this article to be outdated.  We provide links to assist landlords and tenants to the state statute page for further research.

Click here if you are seeking renters insurance in Pennsylvania.

 

Quick Facts for Real Estate Investors Considering Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania landlord-tenant laws are considered Landlord-friendly.

There are 12.8m  residents in Pennsylvania.  Major metropolitan markets in Pennsylvania are:

  1. Philadelphia: Estimated population of 6,102,434, which 34% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $1,082.
  2. Pittsburgh: Estimated population of 2,317,600, which 30% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $815.
  3. Harrisburg: Estimated population of 577,941, which 31% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $916.
  4. Allentown: Estimated population of 844,052, which 31% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $988.
  5. Scranton: Estimated population of 553,885, which 34% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $764.
  6. Lancaster: Estimated population of 545,724, which 33% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $977.
  7. York: Estimated population of 449,058, which 26% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $954.
  8. Reading: Estimated population of 421,164, which 28% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $864.
  9. Erie: Estimated population of 269,728, which 34% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $719.
  10. State College: Estimated population of 162,385, which 38% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $920.
  11. Lebanon: Estimated population of 141,793, which 30% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $816.
  12. Johnstown: Estimated population of 130,192, which 24% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $601.
  13. Altoona: Estimated population of 121,829, which 34% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $688.
  14. Williamsport: Estimated population of 113,299, which 31% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $754.

 

 

SECURITY DEPOSIT LAWS IN PENNSYLVANIA

 

Does Pennsylvania require security deposits? 

Pennsylvania does not require security deposits, however, if accepted then there are laws and regulations.

 

Is a security deposit receipt required in Pennsylvania? 

No statute.  It is generally recommended to still send a receipt of at least the date, the total amount received, and its purpose.

 

How much security deposit can a landlord charge in Pennsylvania? 

Pennsylvania limits security deposit to 2 months during the first year of occupancy.  Then 1 month’s rent for subsequent years.  (68 P.S. §§ 250.511a)

 

 

Storage Requirements for Security Deposits in Pennsylvania: 

A landlord must store deposits over $100 in a federally or state-regulated institution, providing the name and address of the institution in writing to the tenant.  (68 P.S. §§ 250.511b)

 

 

Can security deposits be commingled with other assets in Pennsylvania? 

Landlords cannot commingle deposits with their personal funds.  However, since interest is owed to the tenant it is often easier to have a separate real estate bank account to calculate interest earned.  (68 P.S. §§ 250.511b)

 

Do landlords have to pay interest on security deposits in Pennsylvania? 

Landlords are required to share the interest earned for deposits on the second anniversary of the deposit of escrow funds.  (68 P.S. §§ 250.511b(c))

  

 

 

When must a landlord return the deposit by in Pennsylvania? 

Landlords must return the security deposits within 30 days after the termination of the lease and delivery of possession by the tenant.  (68 P.S. §§ 250.512)

 

When can a landlord in Pennsylvania withhold a security deposit?

At the end of a lease, the landlord is required to return the tenant’s security deposit.  However, landlords may withhold all or portions of a tenant’s security deposit for (68 P.S. §§ 250.512(a)):

  • Unpaid rent and/or fees
  • Damages beyond normal wear-and-tear
  • Damages from breach of lease

 

 

 

Nonrefundable fees: 

No Statute.

 

Pet Deposits and Additional Fees:

No statute on pet security deposits.

 

Require a written description / itemized list of damages and charges?

Landlords are required to provide a written and itemized list of damages that are delivered or mailed to the tenant’s last known address. (68 P.S. §§ 250.512)

 

What happens to Pennsylvania landlords that fail to comply with returning the security deposit?

The landlord is liable to the tenant to (68 P.S. §§ 250.512(b and c)):

  • Forfeits all rights to without any portion of the security deposit or unable to bring suit against the tenant for damages
  • Liable for double the amount wrongfully withheld, plus interest

 

 

 

 

 

 

RENTAL AGREEMENT LAWS IN PENNSYLVANIA

 

Rental agreements required in Pennsylvania:

Rental agreements are required for leases 12 months or longer.  We always recommend having a legal lease agreement to prevent future complications.

If you need a lease, Burbz offers an online Pennsylvania rental lease agreement.

 

What are the required lease provisions in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania requires certain provisions to be included in the lease agreement.  Besides both the landlord and tenant names, the landlord should also list:

  • Must:  Conditions of occupancy
  • Must:  Description of the rental unit
  • Provision defining automatic renewal
  • Late Fees and Penalties
  • Landlords name, address, and phone number
  • Rent Amount and Due Date.
  • Length of the lease agreement
  • Tenants name, address, and phone number
  • Landlord’s responsibilities for maintenance and utilities
  • Tenant’s responsibilities for maintenance and utilities
  • Occupancy by children or pets
  • Required deposits and the conditions for their refund
  • Inspection rights by the landlord
  • Other fees
  • Address of rental property
  • Security deposit amount and terms
  • Process for requesting maintenance and repairs
  • Subleasing policy
  • Pet policies
  • Cleaning Fees

 

LANDLORDS ARE PROHIBITED FROM:

  • Any provisions waiving Tenant’s right

 

What are the rental agreement notice requirements in Pennsylvania: 

Fixed-End or Year-to-Year: Must provide at least 30 days’ written notice.   (68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b))

Month-to-Month: Must provide at least 15 days’ written notice at any time.  (68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b))  Read our guide on Month-to-Month rent.

Week-to-Week: Must provide at least 15 day’s written notice with the termination date specified in the notice.  (68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b))

 

Rent Increase Notice:

No statute.  It is generally good practice to include a provision in the lease agreement defining the notice process.

 

Rent Grace Period for Residential:

Pennsylvania does not require grace periods.  Landlords may charge late fees as soon as rent is deemed late.

 

 

Prepaid Rent:

Landlords are allowed to collect prepaid rent maxed at 2 months rent.  (68 P.S. §§250.511a.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

LATE FEES AND LIMITS IN PENNSYLVANIA

Late Fees for Residential:

Pennsylvania landlords can charge any reasonable amount for late fees.  Generally, landlords charge 1 to 1-1/2 month’s rent for unfurnished rentals.

 

 

 

 

PENNSYLVANIA LEASE TERMINATIONS / NOTICES TO QUIT

 

In Pennsylvania, lease agreements between landlords and tenants can be terminated.  Read our blog for landlords about handling early lease terminations.  Here are the cause and effects:

 

What is the Pay or Quit for Nonpayment requirement in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania allows the landlord to immediately begin the eviction process once rent is past due by providing a 10 day written notice.  Tenants can remedy by paying the full amount due prior to the expiration of the 10 days.  If failed to pay full amount, the landlord can start the eviction process (68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b))

 

 

How many days must a landlord allow before terminating for a Lease Violation?

Pennsylvania does not have a statute for lease violations.

 

 

Any actions that result in an immediate lease termination?

No statute.  Tenants are allowed a 10 day Pay-or-Quit notice.  Landlords cannot immediately begin the removal process until those 10 days have expired with no cure.

 

 

 

 

PENNSYLVANIA LAWS ON REPAIRS

 

Pennsylvania requires landlords to provide a habitable property for tenants to live and enjoy.  There are specific provisions defining how tenants can remedy repairs if the landlord fails to do so. 

How many days must the tenant give for non-emergency repairs? 

Tenants need to provide landlords a reasonable time, typically 7-14 days.  No statute.

 

Can tenants withhold rent for landlords’ failure to provide essential services (i.e. water, heat, etc.)?

Pennsylvania allows the tenant the following remedies to handle repairs if the landlord fails

  • Withhold full or partial rent payment until the repair is completed

 

PENNSYLVANIA LANDLORD LAWS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

 

Landlords have an obligation to the tenants, which include:

  • Retention and maintenance of stairways, passages, roadways, and other common facilities
  • Reasonable care for safety in use
  • Responsibility extended not alone to the individual tenant, but including their family, servants and employees, business visitors, and social guests.

 

According to (68 P.S. §§ 250.502-A)

 

 

PENNSYLVANIA TENANT LAWS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

 

Generally, tenants must dispose of all rubbish and garbage, refrain from unreasonable use of electrical, heating, and plumbing fixtures, meet all obligations lawfully by the code enforcement agency, refrain from willfully destroying or damaging the structure, take in additional occupants, rent or sublease without the owner’s consent. (68 P.S. §§ 250.503-A)

 

 

 

 

 

PENNSYLVANIA EVICTION LAWS

 

Can landlords do a ‘self help’ eviction?

In Pennsylvania, it is illegal for landlords to cause the tenant to quit the rental unit involuntarily. Although not included in any provision, no states allow landlords to force a tenant out.  It is highly suggested that landlords proceed through the legal system for tenant removals.

Are landlords allowed to lockout tenants by changing locks?

The landlord cannot change or remove the doors or locks

 

Are landlords allowed to turn off utilities?

Landlords cannot turn off utilities.

 

Do landlords have to make a reasonable attempt to mitigate damages when re-renting the rental unit?

No statute.  Landlords should do their best to minimize damages.

 

 

 

PENNSYLVANIA LAWS ON RETALIATION

 

Pennsylvania laws prohibit landlords from harassing or retaliating against tenants for any of the following reasons:

  • Tenant submitted a complaint to a government agency for building or health code violation
  • Tenant has joined or organized a tenant union or organization  (68 P.S. §§ 250.503-A)
  • Tenant has excised any legal right allowed by federal, state, or local laws

Pennsylvania does not state any duration for acts to be considered retaliation.

 

 

LAWS ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, SEXUAL MISCONDUCT, AND SEXUAL ASSAULT

Pennsylvania Residential Landlord and Tenant Act do not state any protections for victims of domestic and sexual violence.  Burbz encourages landlords to work with their tenants for safety and health.  A general good practice is allowing the victim to terminate the lease with a 30-day notice and victims should provide proof of documentation.

If you are a victim, please search The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence site for a helpline.  As well, look up your local county / city laws regarding tenant protection rights.

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

 

 

 

PENNSYLVANIA LAWS FOR LOCKS AND LANDLORDS

Pennsylvania does require landlords to change locks between tenants.  Tenants may request for the landlord to install any of required items below, the landlord must install within a reasonable amount of time.  State laws require every rental unit to be equipped with:

  • Deadbolt lock
  • Pin lock and security bar lock
  • Window latches and guards
  • Smoke detectors

 

 

 

 

PENNSYLVANIA PET LAWS & PET POLICIES

Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant Laws does not have any specific pet laws. Otherwise, landlords are legally allowed to create their own pet policies and requirements.  Including tolerance for breeds, size, types, and more. 

Read our guide to pet policies.

 

 

 

 

 

DO LANDLORDS IN PENNSYLVANIA NEED A RENTAL LICENSE?

 

According to Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant Laws, landlords do not need a rental license in Pennsylvania.

Landlords and owners of residential rental property do not need to register the property.  Local cities may have different requirements, we recommend you research the local city-specific laws.

 

 

 

 

 

NOTICE OF ENTRY LAWS IN PENNSYLVANIA

Do landlords in Pennsylvania have to provide notice of entry? 

Pennsylvania does not require landlords to provide any notice.  However, it is recommended that landlords provide 24 hours’ notice for normal circumstances entry.    This includes:

  • Non-emergency maintenance and repairs
  • Improvements to property
  • Inspections
  • Showing prospective tenants, contractors, mortgagees, or buyers.

 

When can a landlord enter without notice:

Landlords may enter due to an emergency.  No statute.

 

 

Can landlords enter for non-emergency maintenance and repairs?

Yes, with reasonable notice.  No statute on required duration of notice.

 

 

Can landlords enter for showings?

Yes, with reasonable notice.  No statute on required duration of notice.

 

 

 

Can landlords enter for emergencies without notice?

Yes, when there is an immediate threat to the safety or health of persons using or near the premises.

 

 

Can landlords enter during Tenant’s extended absence?

No Statute.

 

 

Can landlords enter for pesticides?

No Statute.

 

 

 

 

 

PENNSYLVANIA SUBLEASE AND ASSIGNMENT PROVISIONS

Landlords should include a clause in the lease agreement to prevent subleasing.  Otherwise, the tenant may sublet the rental unit.

 

 

 

 

TENANT ABANDONED PROPERTY IN PENNSYLVANIA

 

Pennsylvania Residential Landlord and Tenant Act state the landlord must provide a 10 day written notice to the tenant. (Act of Jul. 5, 2012, P.L. 1091, No. 129)

If the tenant contacts and responds to the landlord within the 10-day notice period, the landlord must provide a 30-day period for the tenant to collect their personal.  This includes the initial 10 day period.

If the tenant does not contact or respond, the landlord may dispose of the items and have no further responsibility.

 

 

 

REQUIRED RENTAL AGREEMENT DISCLOSURES FOR PENNSYLVANIA LEASES

 

Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant Laws requires the following be included with all Rental Agreement Disclosures:

 

Lead Paint Disclosure:  Yes.  Federal law requires every landlord to disclose known information on lead-based paint and hazards.  Landlords must provide this EPA-approved pamphlet.

Utility Disclosure:  Landlords who pay for utilities, such as water, gas, or electric, are liable for providing utilities to the tenant if the utility company has cut off any service to the rental unit.  Landlords are also liable if the utility company has sent written notice to the tenant that their service is in threat of or being cut off due to the landlord’s nonpayment.

 

 

 

HELPFUL RESOURCES

Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951 68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. §§ 250.101 – 250.602 

Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Act (1951) Act of Jul. 5, 2012, P.L. 1091, No. 129 – Amendment

Pennsylvania Tenant’s Rights

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania State Real Estate Commission

 

 

 

PENNSYLVANIA RELATED COURT INFO & LINKS

 

Pennsylvania Small Claims Court Limits:

$12,000 is the limit for small claims court. 

 

Pennsylvania Eviction Cases Allowed in Small Claims:

Yes.  

The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Attorney General

Pennsylvania State Bar Association

County Bar Associations

Philadelphia Bar Association

PALegalHelp.org

Philadelphia Lawyer Referral Service

Philadelphia Legal Assistance

 

 

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