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Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Laws

Landlords generally consider Pennsylvania rental law to tilt in favor of the tenant, mostly due to the fact that the eviction process in the state is time-consuming and costly. While statutes allow for eviction with 10 days notice, the tenant has many court options available to them that extend the process and can drag it out for months if they are determined to. It is important to keep up with local ordinances, however, as they can have an impact on this process.

The state does not have a requirement for landlords to have any sort of business licenses. Some localities have their own rules about this, however. For example, Philadelphia requires landlords to obtain a housing rental license. And the city of Pittsburgh requires a license for certain types of rentals, such as bed and breakfasts.

The information provided here is taken from state statutes and is accurate and up to date as of publication. However, it is important to understand that this information should not be considered to be legal advice or to be a substitute for the counsel of a licensed attorney.

What Laws Cover Landlord-Tenant Relationships in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania rental law is largely governed by Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. 250.101-250.602, more commonly known as the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951. Of course, a law from 1951 would be inadequate for modern needs, so there is also an amendment (the Amendment to Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951) that was most recently updated in 2012. One other area of the law that has some bearing on landlord and tenant relationships is Title 68 of the Consolidated Statutes, which addresses real and personal property.

Security Deposit Rules

Statutes 68 P.S. 250.511a and 250.512 address the handling of security deposits. Landlords may ask for a deposit that is equal to as much as two months of rent in the first year of a lease, but must reduce that amount to one month of rent in any subsequent years. In the second year, the tenant also becomes entitled to earn interest on their deposit. The landlord must pay the tenant interest at a rate of 1% per year, with the first payment made at the conclusion of the second year. These funds must be held in a separate bank account if they are to be held for over two years and exceed the amount of $100. Landlords are required to notify tenants of the name and address of the bank where the deposit is being held.

Upon termination of the lease, landlords have 30 days to return the deposit to the tenant along with any interest owed to them. The landlord can withhold money from the deposit for unpaid rent or damages, but if they do they must provide the tenant with an itemized list of charges. If a landlord fails to comply with these requirements, they forfeit any right to any amount of the deposit regardless of damages. They also lose the right to bring a lawsuit against the tenant for recovery of damages. If the landlord withholds the deposit in bad faith, they can be held liable for double the amount of all money owed including interest.

There are no statutes in Pennsylvania law regarding application fees, non-refundable fees, or requirements to keep records of deposit withholdings.

Lease, Rent and Fee Rules

There are no statutes in Pennsylvania law addressing when rent is due, advance notice of an increase in rent, grace periods for paying rent, prepaid rent terms, or late fees.

Returned check fees are allowed by Statute 250, but are limited to no more than $50 unless the actual cost in fees to the landlord exceeds $50, in which case they may collect their actual cost. There is no statute allowing tenants to repair and deduct from the rent, but tenants may withhold rent if utilities are not provided and a government agency deems that the dwelling is not habitable. Landlords cannot recover attorney and court fees, but they also are under no obligation to mitigate damages when a tenant breaks the lease early or is evicted.

Personal property laws in Pennsylvania are somewhat complex and are governed by Statute PL 1091 of the Amendment to the Landlord-Tenant Act. If the tenant quits the property and leaves personal belongings behind after a successful eviction or voluntarily with written notice, the landlord must send notice to the tenant as soon as possible at their last known address. The tenant has ten days from the postmark date to get in touch with the landlord. If the tenant makes contact within this time, they are then given 30 days to pick up the items. After 10 days, however, the landlord may move the items to a storage unit and bill the tenant for it. If the tenant either does not get in touch within the initial 10 days, or does not collect the items within 30 days, the landlord is free to dispose of them.

Members of the military can terminate a lease early if they receive orders to active duty, to change duty stations or to be deployed for three months or more. They can also terminate the lease early if they are discharged from the service. Notice of 30 days is still required and the rent will be pro-rated for that time if necessary.

Notice and Entry Rules

Advance notice for a tenant to terminate the lease is governed by Statute 250.501. If the lease is indeterminate, the tenant can end it with 15 days notice. If the lease is longer than a year and open-ended, the tenant can terminate with 30 days notice. 15 days notice are required to end a month to month lease, and no time is specified for week to week arrangements. There is also no statute mentioning advance notice for a move-out inspection.

This same statute also stipulates that landlords must give tenants 10 days  notice to terminate the lease for non-payment of rent. However, as mentioned at the outset of this article, if tenants avail themselves of all of the legal options available this process could potentially take months. There is no statute addressing termination for a lease violation.

There are no statutes on advance notice for entry, but most landlords will provide at least 24 hours in non-emergency circumstances as a courtesy. Pennsylvania is one of the few states that does not have specific statutes preventing lockouts, utility shutoffs or self-help evictions. However, as these practices are widely illegal in the rest of the country and the tenant will likely be able to get an injunction from the Court of Common Pleas restoring their access to the premises if any of these things are done by the landlord.

Required Disclosures and Notes

According to federal law, landlords must disclose any use of lead paint in a dwelling.

Pennsylvania landlord-tenant law does not offer any special legal protections to victims of domestic violence.

Retaliation is forbidden by Statute 250.505. Landlords cannot terminate a lease, refuse to renew a lease or reduce services in response to a tenant making a valid complaint, filing a complaint with a government agency or getting involved with a tenants organization.

Small Claims Court

The state sets a limit of $12,000 in small claims court, but some localities have different limits. The biggest exception is Philadelphia, which does not set any limit for cases involving landlord and tenant disputes. Eviction cases are allowed in small claims court throughout the state.

Realtor Associations in Pennsylvania

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 19 comments
latasha - October 1, 2016

Please advise if my landlord is permitted to raise my rent by $250. I currently live in Milton PA. This is a 2 Family dwelling. I have been living here for over 25 years. Please explain if this is permissible under PA state Statues.

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dana - October 27, 2016

if you renew a lease and the rent has decreased for whole complex areN;t you entittled to that same rent > i went to re sign a lease and instead of giving me the cheaper price they are trying to charge me $100 more.. i can Not leave so i need to sign but I feel like this is wrong… Please answer as soon as possible

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ron garasich - February 8, 2017

I live in apartment >3 years. Originally started with 1 year lease. No renewals. Been month to month since. Landlord died. Can I be move to move right away. Only grandchildren left in his family. Rent now must be made to “The Estate of ………….” How long, approximately, until asked to move? “In Pennsylvania”

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annette - February 12, 2017

I moved into apt July2016,Since that day the neighbors across the hall would play loud music guitars amp it seems they worked in a bar and bring it home, I would here them yelling I aint turning it down if my landlord calls them ,this went on and on my landlord wanted no involment in correcting this and even in the lease it states that tenant must comply with rules which is no annyoing noises, smells etc and not to interfere with neighbors comfort or rights .It also states that he is not legally responsible to any tenant if another tenant breaks the rules I know their is state ordiances about loud music and pot etc so how can my landlords lease supersede state law. Aside from allof this their were mice, and inadequate heat so I broke the lease now he send a letter of back rent from my lease and i think he rented it he did not file court papers any advice

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Hennie - February 14, 2017

Can a landlord increase rent every month? Or every year?

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Shari - February 17, 2017

If you break your lease and move out early. Can the landlord charge you for the balance of the lease if the apartment has been rerented in the state of PA?

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Jessicanne Durkin - May 24, 2017

Hi I have a question, I am being charged 100$ a month for 3 months a total of 300$ in late fees. My rent is only 600$ a month. When I went to pay my rent I noticed additional charges. They charged me double for every month my late fee rolled over and my account balance was not at 0. So they’re now charging me 200$ for 6 months a total of 1200$. When I asked why they said it was a glitch in the system, and I should’ve been charged that much all along not just $300. I can’t find anywhere in my lease that it allowed them to double my late fee and charge me for every month my late fee rolled over even though the rent on that month was not late, it was just a late fee that rolled over from the previous month.

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Andrew - June 13, 2017

If my roommate and I haven’t signed a lease can we be held to thr terms of it as far as moving out goes

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Nicole - June 22, 2017

i fellndown the steps once already and hurt myself. The handrails are only put in with plugs. Is this legal? I have 3 small children and not to mention the windows are not kid friendly. Do i have any claim here? I am constantly harassed by him, and he said he was going to raise my rent because of the water. Which is included in the rent. I have asked repeatedly to fix the handrails. What should i do? Seek legal counsel? Any response would be helpful! Thank you!

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Vicki devore - July 5, 2017

Just need to know wat I can do when a landlord has 2 trailers and my water is hooked up to the other trailer and if she has the Electric turned off at the other trailer I lose my water ithe township won’t let her rent the other trailer cause they say its illegal until she switches everything over well it’s been sitting there for like five years just rotting away so Monday I went to flush my potty and nothing I went to the sink no water ( the well is not dried up ) I have been calling her since Monday and I leave messages her phone goes straight to voice mail she will not call me back but she will harass me for her rent I really need help with this I have kids that live with me by the way I have lived here for 15 years she is such a slum lord I also have 2 holes in my bathroom floor that she has done nothing plz help

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Tina Breon - July 20, 2017

Do the landlord have a right to demand payment ot of water and sewer. It not in the lease to pay water and sewer.

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jim - August 9, 2017

i rent an apartment where the electic box sparks, wiring runs along the bottom of the wall on the floor. wires hanging free on the wall. wires laying free floating from wall to the floor unsercured. the main power wir from meter bow blows freely in the wind. roof leaks every time it rains. i cant buy cable becayse landlord owes bil. entree steps are broken. i have told the landlord i will not pay rent till the issuse are fixed. she will not do repairs and i can’t afford to move. but i clearly live in a unsafe rental unit, how can get help with this? i want to make the landlord pay for a safe home for me to live in? what options and or rescouces do i have?

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nicole - August 12, 2017

a friend of mine is going through some issues with her landlord. my friend and her landlord has had a couples relationship together. now that they are no longer together, her landlord is trying to evict her for no reasons other then personal issues between the 2 parties. My friend has NOT broke the lease in anyway. The landlord is not happy with the breakup between the two so he dropped off an eviction notice. The landlord is harassing her and her children and also causing unnecessary stress. He had told her he was taking her to court due to her not switching the utilities into her name, keep in mind the lease that came from the landlord himself DOES NOT state that she is to switch the utilities in her name. It says she is responsible to pay these utilities when the bill comes in and the landlord is responsible to show her the actual bill so she can pay it accordingly. Can someone please point me in the right direction where to go for information. please and thanks

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Marlena Adams - August 15, 2017

I been renting in this home for 12years now my i have been without electric in my kitchen for 8 months and still paid my rent i hav other electrical problems as well i found out that my circut breaker is rusted and uses fuses and has no ground my landlord is leaving intimidating messages ranging from eviction in 10 days to i dont want to help my self when i talk to him on the phone he doesnt want me to talk about the hazards in the home its much more but i need to talk to someone im thinking about calling landi.

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Dawnrose - September 19, 2017

You mentioned nothing about an important subject – if there is any regulation for rent control or if these landlords can raise the rent whatever amount they choose. My landlord wants to raise my rent by $181/mo! Is that legal?

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Michael Klein - September 24, 2017

Is it state law in Pennsylvania that a last automatically renews as month to month after the first year

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Oscar - October 20, 2017

Is there any laws about asbestos roofing on the dwelling?

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Val - November 1, 2017

Can a Landlord evict a tenant because they complained about that they do not have heat and the tenant refuse to allow the landlord into the apartment that they are renting without giving the tenant a 24 hour notice and the rent is always paid on time?

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grace - November 19, 2017

Our landlord refuses to give us the exact amount of kWh used in a billing cycle. We live in 1 unit of his 2 unit property. Our electric bill continues to be raised for unknown reasons. We have reduced our amount of electricity, and are still being charged high rates. When questioned on the kWh, the landlord tell us that he is splitting the bill with the other unit. Is that in his right? What are our options?

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