Pennsylvania Rental Laws

Written on April 4, 2014 by , updated on April 30, 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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1,098 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Ann

    Hello we live in Pennsylvania and recently our lease expired, our landlord wants us to sign a 2 year residential lease with increases every 3 months is that legal.

  • Ed

    Tenant stated they will be moving out (before lease term end); but on the specific date, they did not move out. I want the tenant to leave and vacate premises, what steps can I take in order to get the resident out. Do I not accept rent going forward; I don’t want to collect rent and have that be a sign of me agreeing for them to stay. Thank you

  • sindee

    can a landlord ask prospective renters for proof of credit score and rental history BEFORE showing the property?

  • Deckal Lee

    Is there a limit that my landlord can increase my rent on a yearly lease? My monthly rent is currently $643.00. My landlord would like to increase my rent to $750.00. Which is an increase of 14.27% I currently live in Harrisburg, Pa. I once lived in Philadelphia years ago. Back then I was told that my rent could not increase greater than 10% on a year to year lease. Is this true? I would really appreciate an information you can provide me with this matter. Thank you.

  • Felicia

    My landlord and I do not have a lease, we have lived here for about 4 years. Landlord is selling property, new landlord doesn’t want Tennants, how long does new landlord have to give us to leave the property, how does he go about evicting us

  • Shyheer C Frasier

    My landlord is selling the property I’m on a month-to-month lease the new owner wants me out by June 8th I was just told this today May 15th what can I do I’ve been really this property since 2006 do I get my security deposit back? Help please I’m scared and confused

  • Lindsey

    My mother and I have been living in an apartment building in PA for about 4 years. We came from an extremely clean home, and keep our apartment EXTREMELY clean. In the last 2 months we have caught an insane amount of mice. We are completely grossed out and do not even want to come home. We were told our downstairs neighbors had an infestation. They sent out an exterminator 2 times, and the problem has not resvoled. Since they were here about 3 months ago, we have still caught NINE MICE! It is completely disgusting. My mother contacted the landlord and her answer was “the traps outside in the gardens must be full that is why they’re getting in” completely ridiculous and no help whatsoever. PLEASE HELP as I am unaware of the state laws!!!! :

    • Rahney Pea

      I should start off by letting you know that I’m not an attorney. I’m just somebody that has had a couple of shady landlords over the years. I’ve read the laws.
      You have the legal right to withhold and deduct, and this is how you do it. First, notify your landlord in writing what the problem is. Include dates, like when the problem started, when you’ve been in contact with the landlord, etc. Describe how this inconveniences you. Be detailed. Inform her that you’ll be withholding your next months rent and placing it into an escrow account. Send it via certified mail. That’s important! When your rent is due, open an escrow account and put the money there. Send her the account number so she can verify that it’s in there. Best of luck to you.

  • Elizabeth Anselm

    I live in Pennsylvania and my landlord notified me well after 30 days after handing in my keys that there were damages and that we aren’t getting our security deposit. We replied with a letter stating they were late with notifying us, then they claimed we didnt provide our new address so they were unable to mail us a list of damages, however I kept communication open by texting twice if the apartment was even checked after we left, and the response was no, that they haven’t had time to see it. Over two months later, after I texted a 3rd time, is when they called about apparent damages.

  • Samara

    A domestic dispute with my ex husband awarded me the home i currently rent. The sudden unfortunate event forced me to be responsible for the rent due 2weeks later. Rent was late because the landlord denied receiving a payment I sent to his address in the form of a money order & I had no receipt, I had to re-pay to avoid eviction with my three children. We agreed on electronic payment & I was late paying but I actually paid due amount and 1 month in advance. Unfortunately I had an issue with this current months payment so I had to pay in money order form but kept the receipt this time. Now the landlord is denying any payment even though I am well caught up with about $400 extra. Can I still get evicted though I have receipt?

  • Michelle

    I have been @ my apartment for almost 2 years January of this year my landlord called me saying that in April he will b charging a water usage fee but I have not seen my usage keeps asking for 50 dollars every month w/o me my usage. I have the whole

  • Michelle

    I have been @ my apartment for almost 2 years January of this year my landlord called me saying that in April he will b charging a water usage fee but I have not seen my usage keeps asking for 50 dollars every month w/o me my usage. I have the whole second floor everything is not closed in as 1 apartment, can he do this I thought landlords paid the water.

    • Jamie

      Im not an attorney or in any way qualified but my personal opinion is to mail a letter stating that you want to see the usage (assuming he denied so). Be sure to photo copy it along with the envelope and also text him to ask, so that all is well documented when potentially denying payment until you recieve such information.

  • William

    Hello i just moved into my new place may 1st and i am hearing from people across the street that my landlord tends to walk into his tenants houses without permission when not home and the place is extremely small and i have 4 cats and 3 dogs and i don’t feel comfortable living there and plus its extremely smell. I got accepted at a new house that is much bigger and nicer..

    The main Question is: I did not sign a lease. I do not have his address to write him a letter of my moving. I am moving June 12th.. if i refuse to pay him anything.. Can he change locks, or try to enter my property without my permission or take possession even though i have no lease?

  • Malik Cooper

    Can you provide insight? I am a landlord in Pennsylvania. I would like to sell my property. I currently have tenants in the property. They have lived there for the last five years. The lease does not say anything about early termination of the lease. It only says that both tenants and landlord will notify one another 60 days prior to the end of the lease, of our intent to not renew the lease. The lease expires on December 31st, 2018.
    So, my question is: can I require the tenant to vacate the property if I give them 60 days to do so? Any insight that you have here would be really helpful here. An email is appreciated.
    Thank you.

  • Davis

    Can a real estate company add my rent with my water bill and charge a late fee when the water bill is received late

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