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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1,174 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Melody

    My husband and I are splitting up and he is trying to sell.our home. My name.isnt on the deed but I am.on the modification and all the utilities are in my name. I have our two minor children living in the home with me. Can he do this?

  • Paul Mick

    PA rules, regulations on Guests on Section 8 Subsidy if not specified on lease, endemic to Delaware County PA – no witnessed active link. Thank you. – PM

  • Beth

    Hi, I have new tenants that never returned the lease to me, for me to sign. I’m having trouble with them already. I heard the lease is not valid because I (the landlord) never signed it and that this automatically makes them on a month to month term. Is this correct? The property is in Delaware County PA. Thanks for your advice.

    • Jen

      I always have the lease signed in person by both parties and get them a copy within the next few days or bring 2 copies to the lease signing.
      For now I would randomly show up and ask for the lease and let them know you will return a copy to them.

  • Bernadette Henderson

    Does a landlord have to tell a potential tenant he is thinking about selling in Philadelphia? How do we go about it. I cannot find any info..

  • Stephanie Hayes

    How often can a landlord impose inspection? What are the guidelines for determining what condition the dwelling must be kept? My landlord wants to do weekly inspections claiming it is to make sure no one is smoking inside. He also said if I didn’t like it, I could move. There are at least 2 who have personally told me, but possibly a total of 4, tenants that smoke inside their apartment and nothing has been said to them. My landlord has also told me I am only allowed to have 3 storage containers of clothing for my children total (3 kids), and I must get rid of the rest. They were not in any walkways or near a heater or outlet. I am a single mom, working full-time, with multiple disabilities, and I feel targeted and harassed. There is more..

  • Paul Mick

    In Pennsylvania if a Landlord in concert with an in-part HUD subsidized Low Income Permanent Housing provider – a non profit entity (both valued at $1 million plus) – white-out one of 2 tenants names from the lease (for requesting that established Code Enforcement procedure & protocol be adhered to, in-writing) & claim that the removed name were never valid as a tenant & the remaining tenant is disabled, bullied, attempts suicide over this same astounding treatment & unforseen circumstances, the ACLU hasn’t staffing to fully investigate what legal course of action for Disability Discrimination, Punitive Damages may be filed & where might tenured legal referrals be had? Removed tenant has Durable Power of Attorney over disabled mom, child.

  • April

    I have a tenant/squatter that paid with a check for their security deposit. They moved in the check bounced so they gave me another check and it bounced as well. Now I am unable to get ahold of her. We sent her a letter requesting money in full she now owes several months rent, security deposit and bounce fees. What are my rights as far as putting her stuff to the curb and changing locks since our month to month agreement is technically void since I have only received a months rent from her and that’s all?

    • mk

      Unfortunately, you can’t just put her stuff to the curb, that’s an illegal eviction. The law is on her side right now. I’ve been through this with a “career squatter” so I know what you’re going through. Put a 30 day notice to quit on her door ASAP. Once the 30 days is up and she hasn’t left (or paid) then you can go to the local magistrates office and file for eviction. (Her name isn’t Sue is it?)
      Good Luck!!!

    • Mk

      Also, keep a copy of the notice to quit for your records. You may even want to take a picture of it hanging on her door.

  • joseph bletz

    I have these Tentants.The was not married and have 2 kids.She ask him to move out because abuse and not helping.He moved in with Mommy with the 2 kids.But he never said he was moving out.He told me he was taking a break and hopefully she would take him back.He don’t wprk on welfare.She works.While she was there he had a chance to get stuff but all he got was his stuff.Nothing of kids.After she moved out the guy wanted to get kids stuff only and leave all the trash and junk.I told him you take it all or nothing.My rental was trashed..Garbage.food all over .cloths on floor dirty.Mold.ruined carpet.Busted windows and screens.Punched holes in all the doors.Ruined floor in bath.Can I sew her .attach wages in Clinton county Pa.

  • Lisa Billett

    My son and family rent an apartment in PA . The lease is an annual agreement. His new job may require him to move to another state…but that’s still up in the air. His lease states that they have to give 90 days…that’s 3 months notice! Isn’t that rather excessive and we wonder if illegal. A lot can happen in 3 months. He won’t have 3 full months before he knows about the job situation. Lease up in May. Any ideas??

  • MKY

    What’s the maximum number of people can live in a two bedroom apartment?

  • angry

    I am a tenant in a house of horrors. My living room windows are nailed shut and water leaks. I have text messages with the landlord who stated he is not fixing the windows and now he is refusing to fix the water leak and pay our water bill. Water bill is now $1000.00. We are 6 months into a 2 yr lease and are moving asap. The landlord just sent me threatening messages about suing me for the rest of the lease term. Many other problems in the house but those are the major ones. Should I be concerned?

  • Anthony Miller

    My wife and I have owned a duplex for about 3 years now. We are preparing to purchase a home and aren’t sure about the water bill from a legal stand point. I realize the water needs to remain in my name as the landlord, but I can’t seem to get a straight answer on my options past that. Can we split the water bill down the middle (although not entirely fair to both parties) Should we add a split meter and bill accordingly?

  • Beth

    Can a landlord post a hand written notice with a 15 day notice while there’s an appeal in progress and can they sell the property while the appeal is on going and if so does the new owners have to do the eviction?

    Thanks

  • Betty

    Hi, I need help. I am a landlord and my tenant has a house choice voucher program.1st inspection was not passed but for the 2nd inspection, it was passed on 2/7 but no payment has been received from Montgomery County Housing Authority nor tenant. Informed the Tenant and the tenant indicated that this issue is on MCHA. I provide the tenant with Notice of Quit on 2/15 due to non-payment. I sent a notice of enter to tenant for a home inspection (2 days ago) and the tenant refused to open the door on the date of inspection. Do I have a right to enter w/o tenant’s permisson. I filed a case for eviction via court yesterday. Who is responsible for rent? Does a tenant has a right to refuse to open the door for inspection & showing with 24hrs notice

  • ADRIANA NATALI TREVINO

    In PA state… My landlord is giving me a notice to quit because I have not paid the water bill that is under his name. I asked for a bill or statement so I can see the amount myself and lost my phone he claims he sent me a picture but without my phone im not sure if he edid and he fails to show proof. Ill have the mony for it this week but just for clarification is that lawful?

  • Lisa

    A cat has moved in with my tenants of 10 months! I am preparing the proper lease addendum, but I am conflicted about the amount of a non-refundable pet fee. I am looking at any where from $200 to $500. They have been perfect tenants thus far at $1,450 per month. What is a reasonable non-refundable pet fee?? Thank you in advance!

  • Richard Campolo

    A friend of mine lives in an apartment building that’s been sold. All the teanants are elderly. The new management co. Is charging a 15.00 fee if they pay by check and not on line, some of these people don’t own a computer. Is this legal on top of the fact their also raising everyone’s rent 125.00 per month , approximately a 15% increase, and their making everyone fill out an application to live there , some people have been there 15 years. IS THIS LEGAL ?

  • Eddie

    The landlord has to return the deed to the original owner due to lack of payment, he’s requesting rent , do I still have to pay or withhold rent till ownership is resolved?

  • Lee

    In Pennsylvania how do I determine if an animal is a Service/Companion pet or just a pet? Is there certification for each type (Service/Companion). Also, I know pet fees can be charged for “pets,” but what about service/companion animals.

  • Bob

    my one year least with my tenants was up last month, they have been late numorus times and i want to put the house up for sale. This month already they’ve stated rent will be late. What do i do next? Evict them? Tell them they have 30 days to get out? Or just list the property? And tell them to move out?

  • Leonard

    I was wondering if you can help me with a problem I have a 4 room apartment on the second floor . My air conditioner has stopped putting out cold air during the cooling season last year it is old and ast to be either replaced or serviced witch hasn’t been done since I moved in if I tell him about it is that only thing he is aloud to come in and check

  • Bubbles36

    Wondering how many of you have your covenant to quiet enjoyment destroyed by nuisance neighbors.
    Its almost a year in July since I moved into this place and haven’t gotten any quiet enjoyment since the 1st month I moved in.
    Now its gotten to a point where I am being kept up out of my sleep by nuisance neighbors above me, if I do sleep I get woken up out of my sleep from the nuisance neighbors, my health is not good and the landlord will not evict them and the police aren’t good for anything.
    I wish I could get help somewhere or I will end up in an early grave.

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