This 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.
Official Rules, Regulations & Guides
- 68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. §§ 250.101 – 250.602 – Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951 (pdf)
- Act of Jul. 5, 2012, P.L. 1091, No. 129 – Amendment to Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951
- Title 68 – Real and Personal Property
- Tenant’s Rights – University of Pittsburgh
- 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:
- Pennsylvania Small Claims Court Limits: $12,000, except for Philadelphia which has no dollar limit for Landlord-Tenant cases (42 P.S. §§ 1123 and §§ 1123)
- Eviction Cases Allowed in Small Claims: Yes
- The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Attorney General
- Small Claims:
- Bar Associations
- Legal Aid
- Business License Required: No state-wide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.
- Philadelphia Housing Rental License
- Pittsburgh Bureau of Building Inspection
- Lead Paint Booklet (pdf)
- Lead Paint Disclosure Rule
- Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission
- Pennsylvania Insurance Department
- Pennsylvania Guide to Home Owners Insurance (pdf)
- Pennsylvania Bureau of Consumer Protection
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania State Real Estate Commission
- Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS®
- Map of Local Associations of REALTORS®
- The Pennsylvania Association of Housing & Redevelopment Agencies
- Allegheny County Housing Authority
- Bethlehem Housing Authority
- Housing Authority of the County of Butler
- Housing Authority of the County of Chester
- Housing Authority of Cumberland County
- Housing Authority of the City of Erie
- Housing Authority of the City of Franklin
- Lackawanna County Housing Authority
- Lancaster City Housing Authority
- Lawrence County Housing Authority
- Lebanon County Housing Authority
- Mercer County Housing Authority
- Montgomery County Housing Authority
- Housing Authority of Northumberland County
- Philadelphia Housing Authority
- Housing Authority City of Pittsburgh
- Housing Authority of The City of Pottsville
- Union County Housing Authority
- Washington County Housing Authority
- Westmoreland County Housing Authority