Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on Pennsylvania landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Act.

PA Landlord Tenant Law:

  • Pennsylvania Statutes Title 68, Section 250.101 to 250.602 - Landlord and Tenant Act

Tenant Application

Application Fees

The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging $25 to $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.

Background and Credit Check

Before running background or credit checks on tenant applicants, landlords must first obtain the applicant's written permission. [Fair Credit Reporting Act Sec.604(a)(3)(F)]

For landlords to run background and credit checks, the tenant application form needs to ask for the applicant's:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • social security number or ITIN (individual taxpayer identification number)
  • current address
  • signed consent (e.g. "I authorize the use of the information and contacts provided to complete a credit, reference, and/or background check.")

Avoiding Discrimination

The federal Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from rejecting prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, nationality, sex, *familial status or physical/mental disability. *Familial status means landlords cannot reject someone for having one or more children under 18. Familial status also includes pregnant women and people planning to have (or adapt) children under 18.

In addition, Pennsylvania landlord tenant law disallows landlords from rejecting someone as a renter because of age.

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Tenancy Agreement

A tenancy agreement (also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement) can be written or verbal.

The landlord and tenant can choose between a month to month tenancy or fixed term lease. For a month to month tenancy, the landlord or tenant can change its terms and conditions at the end of every month. For a fixed term lease, the landlord and tenant CANNOT change the lease terms and conditions during its duration... unless there is written consent from both parties.

Required for Tenancy Agreement

Pennsylvania landlord tenant law requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details:

  • Disclosure and information of lead-based paint in the property (for housing built before 1978)

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Security Deposit

For the first year of tenancy, Pennsylvania landlord tenant law allows the landlord to ask for up to two month's rent as security deposit. From the second year onwards, the landlord can ask for up to one month's rent as deposit. [PA 250.511a.(a)(b)]

From the third year of tenancy, the landlord has to hold any security deposit over $100 in an escrow account. In addition, the landlord must let the tenant know the following details of the deposit account: banking institution name, banking institution address and deposit amount. [PA 250.511b.(a)(c)]

If the escrow account generates interest, the landlord can keep 1% interest per year. Any remaining interest shall be paid to the tenant. [PA 250.511b.(b)]

Deductions and Returns

Pennsylvania landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.
  
Valid reasons for security deposit deductions (under Pennsylvania landlord tenant law) include:

  • Rent owed
  • Property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Costs and losses incurred by landlord due to the tenant violating the lease or failing in duties - See Tenant Duties and Responsibilities below

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.

Once the lease terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a written list of security deposit deductions and refund any remaining deposit within 30 days. This list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing. [68 PA 250.512.(a)] If the landlord doesn't provide this list, he or she won't be allowed to withhold any deposit or sue the tenant for property damages.

If the landlord did not return any remaining security deposit plus interest to the tenant, the tenant can recover twice the amount of deposit that was wrongfully withheld. [PA 250.512.(c)]

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania PA

Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

Late Rent

There are no Pennsylvania landlord tenant statutes on imposing charges for late rent payments or bounced checks.

If the landlord wants to impose late rent charges, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement. While there are no state laws on late fees, landlords cannot overcharge or impose unfair terms. Otherwise the tenant can refuse to pay and challenge the late fees in court.

Most states consider reasonable late fees to be around 3 to 5% of the rent amount. In addition, landlords should wait until rent payment is at least three days late before charging late fees.

Raising Rent

There are no specific Pennsylvania landlord tenant statutes on raising rent.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When can the landlord raise the rent?
  • How many days notice does the landlord have to give before raising the rent?
  • How many days notice does the tenant have to give if he or she is moving out due to the rent increase?
  • Maximum amount or percentage of rent increase (optional)

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Act requires the landlord to maintain the property and its common areas in a safe and habitable condition. [PA 250.502-A]

Tenant Duties and Responsibilities

Pennsylvania landlord tenant law requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean and safe condition [PA 250.503-A]:

  • Cleanliness: Keep the property clean and safe (as far as conditions will allow)
  • Property Damage: Avoid property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by the tenant, tenant's family or tenant's guests
  • Neighbors: Avoid disturbing neighbors and also disallow others from disturbing neighbors

If Landlord Fails to Provide Essential Services

If the landlord fails to provide an essential service (such as heat, water, electricity, plumbing or sanitation) and a government agency has certified that the property is not habitable, the tenant can withhold rent and deposit it into an escrow account instead of paying the landlord directly. [PA 250.206]

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Property Access

There are no Pennsylvania landlord tenant statutes on when and how the landlord can enter the property.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When does the landlord require the tenant's permission to enter the property?
    Examples: Making repairs, supplying essential services, inspecting for damages, showing property to prospective buyers or tenants
  • How long in advance should the landlord inform the tenant before entering the property?
  • When is the landlord allowed to enter the property without the tenant's permission?
    Examples: Handling emergencies (such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion), tenant has abandoned the property
  • What are the penalties if the tenant refuses the landlord's valid request to enter the property?
  • What are the penalties if the landlord enters the property without the tenant's permission or without a valid reason?

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Subletting

There are no specific Pennsylvania landlord tenant laws on subletting.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • Is the tenant allowed to sublet the property? If yes, is the landlord's written consent required before the tenant can sublet?
  • Is the landlord allowed to screen and reject every prospective subtenant?
  • Can the landlord ask for additional rent and security deposit if the tenant sublets?

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania PA

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania PA

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

Before terminating a tenancy, Pennsylvania landlord tenant law requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit in advance [68 PA 250.501.(b)]:

Month to month tenancy

30 days

Tenancy at will

15 days

Tenant has rented property for one year or less

15 days

Tenant has rented property for more than one year

30 days

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Eviction

According to Pennsylvania landlord tenant law, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:

Tenant did not pay rent

10 days

Tenant violated tenancy agreement

15 days

Tenant, tenant's household or tenant's guest was involved in illegal drug-related activities on or near property

10 days

Tenant Did Not Pay Rent

If the tenant did not pay rent on time, the landlord can send the tenant a 10 day written notice to terminate the tenancy. This notice must state the amount of rent owed and that the rental agreement shall be terminated if rent isn't paid within 10 days.

If the rent is paid within seven days, then tenancy shall continue.

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Abandonment

When is it Abandonment?

There are no specific Pennsylvania landlord tenant laws on abandonment of property by the tenant.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When is the property considered abandoned by the tenant? - Tenant hasn't paid rent for X days, Tenant has been absent from the property for X days (without informing the landlord)
  • After the property is abandoned, does the tenant have to continue paying rent until the landlord finds a new tenant?

Dealing with Abandoned Belongings

If there are (tenant's) belongings left on the property AFTER the tenancy has terminated or the tenant has abandoned the property, the landlord must inform the tenant about the belongings and give the tenant 10 days to respond (regarding the recovery of the belongings).

If the tenant contacts the landlord within 10 days, the landlord must give the tenant an additional 20 days to collect his or her belongings (total of 30 days from the day tenant was informed). After the first 10 days, the landlord may move the items to another location and charge the tenant storage costs.

If the tenant does not contact the landlord within 10 days, the landlord can dump, sell or give the belongings away. [Act of July 5, 2012, P.L. 1091, No.129]

↑ Return to Top of Page (Table of Contents)

Resources

Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Law: Pennsylvania Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951

Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Handbook: Self-Help Handbook for Tenants

Like and Share