Pennsylvania Rental Laws

Written on April 4, 2014 by , updated on November 5, 2018

Flag of PennsylvaniaThis article summarizes some key Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant Laws applicable to residential rental units.

The Official State Statutes and other reputable municipal sources were used to research this information. All sources are cited appropriately.

With that said, landlord-tenant laws are always changing and you have a responsibility to perform your own research when applying the laws to your unique situation.

If you have a legal question or concern, I only recommend contacting a licensed attorney-referral service that is operated by the state bar association or county bar associations.

Official Rules, Regulations & Guides

Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: 2 month’s rent during the first year of renting, 1 month’s rent during any subsequent years. (68 P.S. §§ 250.511a)
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 30 days of termination of a lease or upon surrender and acceptance of the premises, whichever first occurs. (68 P.S. §§ 250.512)
  • Security Deposit Interest: The tenant is entitled to interest after the second anniversary of giving a deposit. The landlord shall be entitled to receive as administrative expenses, a sum equivalent to one per cent per annum upon the security money so deposited, paid to the tenant annually upon the anniversary date (3rd year) of the commencement of his lease. (68 P.S. §§ 250.511b(b))
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: Required (68 P.S. §§ 250.511b)
    • Funds held for more than 2 years and funds over $100 must be deposited in an escrow account federally or state-regulated institution.
    • The landlord must notify the tenants in writing the name and address of the banking institution in which such deposits are held, and the amount of such deposits.
  • Nonrefundable Fees: No Statute
  • Application Fees: No Statute. Use Cozy to avoid having to charge application fees.
  • Non-refundable or Additional Fees: No Statute
  • Itemized List of Move-Out Damages and Charges: Within 30 days, landlord shall provide a tenant with a written list of any damages to for which the landlord claims the tenant is liable, along with a refund of all remaining deposit funds. (68 P.S. §§ 250.512)
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No Statute
  • Failure to Comply:
    • Any landlord who fails to provide a written list within thirty days, the landlord shall forfeit all rights to withhold any portion of the deposit, including any unpaid interest thereon, or to bring suit against the tenant for damages to the leasehold premises. (68 P.S. §§ 250.512(b))
    • If the landlord fails to return the remaining deposit, after withholdings, within 30 days, the landlord may be liable for double the deposit amount plus interest. (68 P.S. §§ 250.512(c))

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • When Rent Is Due: No Statute
  • Rent Increase Notice: No Statute
  • Rent Grace Period: No Statute
  • Late Fees: No Statute
  • Prepaid Rent: A landlord is only allowed to collect up to 2 month’s rent for escrow purposes, 1 month’s rent during any subsequent years. (68 P.S. §§250.511a.)
  • Returned Check Fees: Allowed, but it shall not exceed $50 unless the landlord is charged fees in excess of $50 by financial institutions, upon which the landlord can charge the actual amount of the fees. I recommend using Cozy to collect rent online to reduce late payments.
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes, when an government agency or department certifies that a dwelling is uninhabitable, the tenant can elect to deposit rent into an escrow account rather than pay the landlord directly. (68 P.S. §§ 250.206)
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: No Statute
  • Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney Fees: No Statute
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages Caused by Leasee: No Statute
  • Abandonment of Personal Property: (Act of Jul. 5, 2012, P.L. 1091, No. 129)
    • The landlord must send a notice to the tenant stating that personal property has been left behind with contact information for the landlord. The tenant then has ten days from the date of postmark of the notice to contact the landlord.
    • If the tenant does contact with landlord within the ten day period, the landlord must allow the tenant a total of thirty days (the first ten plus twenty more) to get the items. After the first ten days, the landlord may move the items to another location and charge the tenant for storage.
    • If the tenant does not contact the landlord within ten days, the landlord may dispose of the items and have no further responsibility for them.
    • The law applies when either (1) the landlord has received a judgment in an eviction case and has executed an order for possession, or (2) the tenant has given written notice that he has left the home.

Notices & Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – A year or less or for an indeterminate time: 15 days (68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b))
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – More than a year: 30 days (68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b))
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Month-to-Month Lease: 15 days (68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b))
  • Notice of Date/Time of Move-Out Inspection: No Statute
  • Notice of Termination of a Lease for Nonpayment: 10 Days (68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b))
  • Termination for Lease Violation: No Statute
  • Required Notice before Entry: No exact amount of time is specified but generally 24 hours is recommended.
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (nonemergency): No Statute
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Showings: No Statute
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: No Statute
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No Statute
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No Statute
  • Lockouts Allowed: No Statute, but no state allows this.
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No Statute, but no state allows this.

Disclosures & Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Lead Disclosure: Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet (pdf) on lead-based paint hazards.
  • Domestic Violence Situations: No Statute
  • Retaliation: A landlord must not terminate, refuse to renew a lease, or fine a tenant for being involved in a tenant’s organization. (68 P.S. §§ 250.205)

Court & Legal Related:

Business Licenses:

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1,195 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Kristi

    I allowed my cousin to stay at my house for a few weeks because she had no where to go. Next thing I know it, she’s moving her boyfriend in without asking me. He told me it would only be for a few weeks that they found a place but needed a few weeks to get the first month rent together. Ok that was now 8 months ago. In between, I discoved mail for them coming to my house. When I questioned them about it, I was told they changed their address cause their mail wasn’t at their old place anymore. Since then I have told them verbally and in text message on several occasions that they needed to move out. Every time they completely ignored me. Except the last. They told me they are not leaving, and I can’t make them unless I file an eviction

  • Alma young

    If my apartments keeps losing power and I have kids in the apartment is it considered hazardous. If he doesn’t fix the electrical problem in my apartment can I break the lease?

  • sierra

    my building has two tenants( myself and one other person) my landlord is requiring i pay 50% of water,sewage and trash. the other tenant is not paying this due to being on a old lease and she is moving out in oct. There is only one water line for the house as well as one sewage meter. is it legal for the landlord to charge me for utilities without knowing my usage?

    i already pay so much for a one bedroom apartment , i dont want to be paying more then i should be.

  • Crystal Cope

    Hello so my situation is when my landlord wanted us to renew our lease they put in it that we are responsible for 50% of the utilities and the rent and utilities have to be auto withdrawn. My daughter was stupid enough to sign it. The problem is there is 2 tenants in the building and there are not seperate meters for any of the utilities. Is this legal? Is them doing a auto withdraw legal? I can see the rent being but how can they do the utilities not knowing how much they are every month. She also ask to see the Bill’s before paying. They are trying to make her pay the entire $68 for sewage instead of 50% How does she stop them from just taking money out of her acct?

  • Mary Pearson

    Is it legal in Pennsylvania for a landlord to have carpeting cleaned in a rental unit after the tenant moves out and deduct that fee from the security deposit? The carpet was cleaned before the tenant moved in and though there is no damage or serious staining the carpet is showing some dirt.

  • Monette

    I’ve been renting my apartment for 7 years I rarely ask my landlord to do anything I had the bathroom painted and the mold removed it came back after a year so I called the landlord and told him to come and see about it he came and Ipointed out to him that I had the kitchen painted and the hallway he said good I told him the vanity in the bathroom needs to be changed he told me I have to pay for it.

  • ELIZABETH LA CAILLE

    My landlord gave me 6 days notice that the apartment house was sold. How much time should the new owner give me to move out?

    • shellkins

      I believe the new owner has to honor your lease with the old owner.

      • Paul

        Elizabeth,

        I think it is a 60 day notice once your new landlord takes over in Pa. if you are within the first year of your lease. If you are after your first year and the lease defaulted to month to month then your old landlord could give you a 60 day notice. either way 60 days is the minimum.

  • John

    I love in Sharon, my landlord told me I wasn’t aloud at the property. And gave me no prior notice at all for eviction or reason of eviction. But two days after I left for my job which is on the road, she took the very first lease agreement in 8 months to my girlfriend. Stating on the lease that I wasn’t aloud on the property, and that if I was she would evict her and our children. Also that if she didn’t sign the new lease that she would also evict her and our children. Is this legal, or can I go home without being arrested?

  • Mathias Reich

    In Shenandoah Pa. is the landlord, by law, required to pay water and sewage bill? I’ve heard in some municipals this is the law.

  • Sondra

    My apartment building was sold and my old lease automatically turned over to the new owner.my lease expired on October 2018.
    I have been paying rent each month
    My new landlord says I’m bound till October 2020.. there is a box on my old lease that is not checked stating check box if lease agreement is greater than month to month. Box IS NOT CHECKED do I have any leg to stand on?.
    I did have a verbale agreement with new l andloard that I was staying but now due to personal circumstances I must move. What can I do.

  • Jane

    my mother lives in a building with a lot of other seniors/disabled peoples. her rent is supposed to include everything (heat, etc) however still no heat. they used to have space heaters (as told by management), now he wants to charge $30.00 a month for anyone who has them. Now, again she wakes up cold and now no hot water. This hot water thing has been happening more often. what can she do. her only source of income is her SSD check. He told the people if they kept their windows/doors closed they wouldn’t have a problem, thing is the cold comes right through the door anyhow.

  • Jim Snodgrass

    I lease a camp site seasonally in Pennsylvania at an annual fee at the start of the season for the site. The electricity usage is metered at each site and after the end of the season the campground owner sends each metered site a bill. This year for the first time the bill included kilowatt usage and a cost per kilowatt. The campground owner is charging $0.15 per kilowatt hour which is more than double the rate of any electric provider in Pennsylvania. Is this legal? I tried to research the Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant laws but could not find anything that addressed utility payments such as this. I want to find a law or regulation that addresses this situation and present it to the owner rather than legal act. do you know if there is one?

  • Marne

    I moved in with a friend who owns a house to help her out financially(she’s disabled, no job) with a spoken agreement that I’d pay 300 a month plus the electric bill. Our water has been shut off for almost a month now because she hasn’t been able to pay those (and she keeps using my rent payment for other things rather than towards the water). I have to be clean and presentable for my job, and there doesn’t seem to be any change in site. I can’t financially take on any more, but I am afraid she’ll retaliate somehow. What should I do?

  • Brian

    Im trying to figure out if our landlord has the right to have our extra car towed against our will. Its not insured and its plate is on a new car and it needs inspected. But we own it no loan. I would like to fix it but i dont have the time or money at the moment. He just left a note inside our car telling us to get rid of it. Usually i would just do it because we just buy cheap used cars and ride them til they die. But he is the type to not fix blatent problems and im tired of him being a crappy landlord, but can he tell me what to do with my stuff? If he can ill just scrap it. But i was hoping to not do that. Thanks ahead of time.

  • Sandeep

    Hi, I have vacated a rented house where I was living for 4 years. There were some stains on the carpet and furniture markings which we believed can be fixed by professional cleaning. The apartment is charging me the replacement of the carpet. Also, they added minor trash, general cleaning, bathroom cleaning, stove cleaning, kitchen cleaning with a total amount of 550$. They are quoting lease as Per the terms of the lease, you are required to give the apartment back as you received it, with the exception of normal wear and tear. I did ask to be present at the time of inspection but was not informed when the inspection happened. Also checklist was never shared with itemized charges was never shared with me. What are my options?

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