Pennsylvania Rental Laws

Written on April 4, 2014 by , updated on November 14, 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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1,013 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Tabitha

    Lucas,
    I have a year lease that was from last November til this November(which it’s November now) and after that the landlord said that it goes month to month. In our lease, it states that the rent is due on the 1st and you have to have it paid by the 5th or it is considered “late.” I have paid every single month by the 15th at latest. Usually earlier than the 15th like around the 10th. The landlord also put in the lease that if you pay “late” more than two times, that he can evict you. Will a judge really enforce this and evict you if you pay every single month but on the 15th instead of the 5th? The way that my paychecks come, it is almost impossible to pay by the 5th. My one year lease is up so it is now month to month.

    • AR

      As a landlord, I would be furious if a tenant paid always late. You should have brought up the paycheck issue with the landlord before signing the lease commiting to pay rent on the 1st, he may have simply changed the lease to be from 15th to 15th. If you get paid after the 1st, save up money from the previous month to pay next month’s rent on time. With the lease now month to month, unless you were an otherwise outstanding tenant, I would be looking forward to terminating the lease with 30 days notice, or at the very least increasing the rent to pay for the additional headaches.

  • Amy Rivera

    Lucas, I’m trying to be a add on to my friend apartment, but when I talk to the landlord. She told me that, I would have to fill out a application and pay the app fee, which I have no problems complying with the rules. The problem I’m having with this situation is she told me in order for me to move in I would have to pay the remains balance of what my friend ows and I would have to submit pay stub. I’m a little confuse of the situation because I wanted to just be a add on to his lease the landlord knows he has someone else residing at the property but he would be the main tenant on the lease can you please explain to me is this the correct way in the state of Philadelphia because I’m from Houston Texan and I never came across the problem.

  • Tanya

    Hi I have a rental home(Berks PA) that my tenant has willfully caused damage to (busted door) and also has placed a keyed lock on a bedroom with a bathroom that I would be unable to access in an emergency. It states in the lease no changes to be made to the home without written consent and I am afraid of what damage has been done behind the door. I am going to be filing eviction in a few days for breach of contract, but do I have a right to inspect the home for further damages once a month until eviction with 24 hr prior notice? Tenant told me I am not allowed as that violates her rights, but much damage has been down to my property in less than 3 months of renting to her. I also had to chase after her for rent already too. :( Thank you

  • Beth McNulty

    My landlord will not give me access to the boiler room where the heat pump to our oil heat is located. Last night we ran out of oil before we expected to and had to break in to re-prime the line and today they are giving us a hard time for it. We don’t get our oil delivered for two more days – if the oil guy needs to prime the pump and can’t get in we are screwed. does the landlord have the right to restrict our access if we pay for the oil?

  • Lee

    my bf has been living with his friends for over a year. They own the house and he lives in the basement. He gets mail there and agreed to give them 250 a week for rent. There is no written agreement or contract. He now wants to move out and they said he must give them a 30 days notice/months worth of rent. Is this legal? Is he obligated to give them 30 days notice or a months rent?

    • Lori

      My son lives with his friends in their basement. He gets mail there and agreed verbally to give them almost $300.00 a week for rent..utilities and internet.He now wants to move out and they say he must give them 30 days / notice/worth of rent . Is this legal? Is he obligated to give them 30 days notice and 30 days rent?

  • Marilyn

    Hi, I live in Brentwood Boro and have a landlord issue. The property is managed by a realty company however that company is unable to make repairs I assume due to the actual contract and we have numerous problems. Moved in July and within a month the in-wall AC/Heat unit froze up. In fact you cannot really adjust, just keep on low so ok. Then within a month all the hot water tanks broke and it took 2 weeks for the Landlord to approve their replacement. They were at least 75 years old. Now today the laundry facilities are broken for over a week and no repair. This is listed in the lease as included. Problem is the rental company can never get hold of the Landlord for any repairs and or maintenance. What can I legally do?

  • Lori

    My son lives with his friends in their basement. He gets mail there and agreed verbally to give them almost $300.00 a week for rent..utilities and internet.He now wants to move out and they say he must give them 30 days / notice/worth of rent . Is this legal? Is he obligated to give them 30 days notice and 30 days rent?

  • Mary Granger

    I live in Lebanon County, PA. I am thinking about renting out my townhouse. I have tried to research, if any type of a license is needed to become a landlord and am not really finding anythin on lind. Thank you!

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