Pennsylvania Rental Laws

Written on April 4, 2014 by , updated on September 16, 2017

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: No Statute
  • 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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982 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • dani

    wretye5ryabcd.com

  • Heather

    my boyfriend has a 9 year old daughter who lives with her mother. He gets her every other weekend. Friday night into Sunday morning. He wants to move into my 1 bedroom apartment with me until my lease runs out at the end of this year. The daughter will NOT be living in my apartment with us at anytime. We made arrangements with his mother to stay at her house when he has his daughter. My landlord is refusing to put him on my lease because he has a daughter and are stating we must now rent a 2 bedroom apartment. Can they do that? I explained to them she will never be staying in the apartment with us and that our plans was to move at the end of my lease to a 2 bedroom apartment/house. Please help.

  • Kw

    Can the landlord give a notice to quit via email?

  • Jas

    After being consistently late paying rent all year, we sent our tenant a formal letter 60 days prior to the end of lease to inform her she will not be eligible for lease renewal or month-to-month. We informed her that she must vacate the premises and all of her belongs by 5:00pm on the last day of tenancy and that we will collect her rent and outstanding balance ($1800+) on that day as well since she had not paid rent for the entire month (AGAIN). On the day of move-out she left before we got to the property at 10:00am and sent us a text saying she can’t afford to pay us on top of her moving fees and told us to use the security ($1350) but she left the place dirty plus damages. How do we handle this type of situation?

    • MK

      Take her to small claims court. Take pictures of the mess/damage she left and receipts to have it cleaned up. And keep that text.

      • Jas

        Thanks MK!

        We have copies of everything as well as pictures of the damages. She didn’t leave a forwarding address. When we went to file suit we were told it will be a civil case since she already left and to file we need a forwarding address. Of course she didn’t leave one and she refused to give us a forwarding address.
        Any tips on how to obtain her new address?

        • MK

          True people search is a good site to try. Do you know her place of employment (she may have it on facebook if she has an fb account)? Maybe you could have her served there? Good luck!

          • Jas

            Thanks again MK!

            I will try the website.

            We do know her place of employment, but they said it has to be a home address. They can’t use her work address.

            We googled her name and only her previous address and the rental address had come up so far. We will try to use the website to get more up to date information.

            • Elena-Marie Di Maggio

              Wow that site has my mother and I meshed. Says she’s a jr (which I am) and I have a madden name (which she does). Also lists her as the owner of my house that I am listing to sell bc tenant just stopped paying me. Yes this is a problem for city of phila landlord -tenant housing certification as she has a BPT and I cannot explain enough times we have the same name. Hence I am having to sell my home as the only solution.
              Not sure how this works and putting all my faith in realtor does make me a tad nervous. Any suggestions. ?

        • Shannon

          Wait a week or two then send the former tenant a letter at the address she vacated…. be sure to add “Address Service Requested” to the envelope per usps specs.
          You should get a postcard back with the new address assuming she’s file a change of address.

  • Bri

    I have 2 questions:

    1.) Does anyone know in the state of pa if a landlord can enter your apartment without permission for a repair/maintenance?

    2.) Can a landlord tell you have to leave and find another apartment for no probable cause?

    • Shannon

      1. yes with 24 hours notice (permission is not needed just notice they will be there)
      NOTE – Landlords can enter at anytime for a true EMERGENCY

      2. This one needs more clarification. Yes you can be given notice of non-renewal or asked to vacate at the end of any lease term or mo-to mo rental term for no reason but with proper notice. The landlord can not make you leave during the terms or the rental agreement unless you’ve failed to pay or otherwise violated lease terms.

  • Sarah p

    I live in Herman pa. I’ve been renting a place for 1.5 years and I work on my vehicle if need be around back of my place that can’t be seen from the road either. My landlord decided to scream at me yesterday saying I’m to loud and not to be fixing my vehicles on the property?? Says he will evict me. Now my property is always clean. Inside and outside. Is there a renters law or something that protects me from this.

  • Marco

    Hello there,

    Is the rental agreement supposed to be registered with the city and stamped?

    Or just the signature of the landlord and tenant should be enough?

    Thanks

  • Nilda young

    Can my daughter’s landlord take her to court because she is late on her water bill she lives in PA

  • TLS

    Can a landlord file an eviction suit in Pennsylvania without first serving the tenant with a notice to quit? Is this legal? Even if the reason is for withholding rent?

  • richard

    A tenant in Pennsylvania breached a residential lease, moving out four months before the end of the lease term. The landlord quickly rented the property to a new tenant within a week after the breach. Is the landlord permitted under Pennsylvania law to collect four months rent as damages in landlord-tenant action? Or is the landlord’s damages limited to the time period between the breach/unpaid rent and the new lease?

  • Carol Schwartz

    I have been renting from my landlord for about 5 years. Never have been late with rent. My rent is raised $25 a year which is fine with me. I wanted to have a few rooms painted because there are some cracks in the walls and other things. My question is: Am I responsible to pay for these rooms to be painted or does my landlord have to do that? I referred her to a family friend because she needs some things painted downstairs where she lives (this is a house I live on 2nd floor), she got an estimate from him but told him to give me the estimate for the upstairs painting and I have to pay for it. I just need to know if legally it is her responsibility to pay for any painting on my floor?

  • sandy

    my upstairs neighbors moved out but left their bed bugs behind. my landlord knows they are now relocated in my apt. landlord has come and sprayed themselves a few times but not consistent and the problems has not been resolved. i had to throw out my bed and boxspring and haven’t had a bed now for over 3 months. the bugs are now in my livingroom furniture. landlord only comes and sprays when i call and last time i called they never came. i want to get a professional service in here and exterminate these little biters and send the bill to the landlord. so how do i go about doing this legally?????

  • Marjie

    I really need help.

    I have been leaving in a house now for a little over 2 years. A couple a months into moving in notice that rain was coming into my kitchen from window. Since that time I have been trying to get them to fix. They haven’t and now I have a real bad mold problem . I have been late with rent but I never let it pass a month. I have 3 kids and they say they will come to fix but only come to paint things and cover stuff up. What can I do? Plus the city has been here and still nothing. Also he just raised my late fee can they do that without notice? I don’t want to live here but I can’t afford to move.

  • Marjie

    I really need help.

    I have been living in a house now for a little over 2 years. A couple a months into moving in notice that rain was coming into my kitchen from window. Since that time I have been trying to get them to fix. They haven’t and now I have a real bad mold problem . I have been late with rent but I never let it pass a month. I have 3 kids and they say they will come to fix but only come to paint things and cover stuff up. What can I do? Plus the city has been here and still nothing. Also he just raised my late fee can they do that without notice? I don’t want to live here but I can’t afford to move.

  • D Smith

    In the state of PA. is there a limit on the amount your rent can be raised?
    Been living in the house for 2 years, and at the end of the lease they are raising my rent 50%. Is this legal?

  • Bill

    PA Tenant is staying 18 days beyond lease term. Can we charge full month rental amount

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