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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1,130 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Deb lively

    I live I’m pa and rent a garage turned into apartment. There’s house that’s in front of me where my water shut off is in cellar. There is only 1 water meter for my place and the house has 2 apartments. There’s been as many as 6 people in the house and I live alone. My place is basically a large room with no washer or dishwasher and the house that I share with . Both tenants have washers and dish washers and way more people. Landlord charges me full water bill sewage and garbage. I have complained for 4 yrs that I shouldn’t have to pay 1/3 of bill since they have 6 people in house plus they have washers dish washers. I asked to see water bill they refuse. I’m gonna take pic of one meter .where can I get help

  • Maria Navajo

    I signed up a lease with 3 other girl at a town house in state college, we are not getting along any more and I decided to break the lease. I contacted the landlord explaining the situation to release me off the lease and he will if the other tenants agree to pay the rent in full. The other tenants are not agreeing to pay the rent and demanding for me to pay the portion of the rent that we all had agree at first. the landlord said that I’m responsible for my part of the rent and if he does not receive it every month he will send the unpaid balance to court.
    Can he sue me individually or the other tenants are obligated to pay the rent in full if I don’t pay my part?

    • Former Residential Landlord

      It depends on how the lease is written. If it is a “joint and several lease” all tenants are responsible individually for the ENTIRE monthly lease amount, and landlord can take legal action against any or all in order to collect the full rent. If lease was written that each individual was only responsible for their share, then you are responsible for your 25%, same for your co-tenants (most landlords do not write leases this way). Take your lease to an attorney and get legal advice.

  • D M

    Is this the same if my son is NOT returning to school? There are 4 in the apartment now but will be 3 due him not returning to school.

  • K.M.

    CAN U LEGSLLY B EVICTED FOR THIS? My girlfriend lives in an apartment complex and her landlord is trying to evict her for “having a drug dealer in her house” This quote is in reference to me bcuz of my criminal history that I plead guilty to over 10 years ago for trafficking when I was 20yo now I am a law abiding citizen. My criminal history only came to light to him bcuz I had to go to the E.r. from her apartment an when the police and emts arrived they ran my name an seen my past and told her landlord my history. My background is public info and I dont hide it. However there is NO such thing going on she does not have any one else over other than me and when there r quiet an keep to ourselves. Thank u in advance for any help

    • charlotte sanfilippo

      K.M wow that is so messed up! first of all, what business is it for the police and emt to tell her landlord? you paid your fines,etc did your time, what bull! he would have to have solid prove you are dealing drugs, as of current day, so what did happen?

  • K.M.

    I forgot to mention in my above question about my girlfriends apartment… I as m not on the lease and technically do not live with her but I do spend the night pretty often…. So in short can a landlord evict u for who u let visit??? Also if any one knows of any related articles that could help when she goes to court for this I’d greatly appreciate it.

  • charlotte sanfilippo

    always pay my rent a week early for 2 years now, had knee surgery, and told him I needed him to clear a path for me, he said he would do it that one time only, looking at my lease, he does not mow my grass, but in his lease he states landlord obligated to clear snow, and cut lawn #2 this month I had an emergency and am $200 short out of $600 he said ,I better have it by Monday…Monday is a holiday, banks closed, and legally have until the 5th of the month anyway, Monday is the 3rd? lease says after the 5 days a $3 a day late fee will be applied, so why is he trying to kick me out? and doesn’t he have to bring me to court? in PA

    • MK

      Not sure why he’d be so quick to tell you to leave. However, he CANNOT just kick you out (that’s an illegal eviction), he has to go through the eviction process in court.

  • Travis Barker

    Hello i live in a trailer park in york pa (wrightsville) i own the trailer i live in i paid the landlord in full for the trailer as it was a rent to own … Now i only pay lot rent for my trailer being in his park. For 1 I paid my trailer off in full in april of 2017 and he still has not gotten back to me about transfering a title or even contacted me back from the many occasion i tried to contact the office or his so called property manager.( another tentant living in the trailer park who mows grass for him) But with that said my main question is about the water bill everyone in the park is ran off of the same WELL SYSTEM …1 WELL FOR EVERYONE. CAN HE CHARGE ME A WATER BILL FOR WELL WATER? EACH TRAILER HAS A METER BUT MINE DOES NOT WORK

  • M. Trav

    I gave my landlord thirty day notice that I am moving out had electric switch over still had stuff in the house and family pets (cats) that I was going to feed daily he changed locks and called animal control for the cats it has only been a week since notice was given and said security deposit was used to fix broken septic line what are my legal grounds

  • Roy Pridgen

    I am being evicted in less than 10 days but the landlord never given me or filled out rent receipts and when I first moved in she had me sign a regular piece of loose leaf paper with my 2 children name on it now is that legal what she’s doing or can I fight it in small claims court and stay here until the case is resolved?

    • mk

      I don’t believe you need a written lease for it to be legal. You say you didn’t get receipts, how did you pay the rent? If you paid by check get cancelled check copies to take to court. You can fight it in court, but if you didn’t pay your rent, chances are the judge will grant the eviction and then you’ll have an eviction and judgement on your record.

  • John

    I moved out of a rental property 2 months ago. I got a letter from my landlord saying I caused septic failure and it will cost 18000 dollars to fix .am I responsible for this ?

  • Judy

    How many people are allowed to live in a 1 bedroom apartment? There are currently 2 adults and 2 children. This is in Delaware County PA

  • Bern Anderson

    In just four months into a twelve month lease tenant wants to break the lease She is offering to sy until a new tenant is secured which agrees with the lease terms. We are willing to negotiate but not at any cost We did not expect to spend time or money readying a unit in four months againt. A minimum of 12. We met to discuss the terms, she knowing that there can be no cost to us and any costs and time spent finding the next tenant and preparing the unit is on her. She offered her security deposit. Are we allowed to keep that as offered? Cant find anything current on this that I trust

  • Kathryn Nichols

    I live in a HUD Sub in Carnegie PA, and live here since April 2018. The landlord and their maintenance just show up at my door or enter my residents without notice or a phone call. I turned them in to the Health Department for mildew and cracks in my apartment. I notified the landlord that they are required to notify me within a 24-notice and told them I am not comfortable with them being in my apartment while I am out. Now they are retaliating with giving me a notice at 6:30pm, for maintenance to enter my resident all this week and the beginning of next week. I had maintenance man come into my apartment and he broke my security alarm that is why I don’t want them in my apartment. Now I have security cameras in my apartment.

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