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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1,183 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Phyllis Zecca

    If a tenant renews their lease after the first year, does the last months rent need to be returned to the tenant? Can I hold onto the security deposit and the last months rent until the second year lease ends?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Phylis

      Yes you can. This is common. When you sign a renewal lease, just put it in writing that you will carrying over the funds – so everything is well-documented.

      • Tiffany

        What consists of written notice? According to my lease with my tenant they need to give 60 days written notice before moving out. Does email count in PA as written notice and does it not have to be given by all parties on the lease?

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Tiffany,

          I’m not really sure. My suggestion would be to play it safe. Tape a written notice to their door, and send them and email at the same time. Then, mail a certified letter to your tenant.

          If your tenants are under joint and several liability, you could mail it to only one of the tenants, but if I were you, I would address the letter to everyone by name.

          Just my two cents…

          Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, but rather just an experienced landlords trying to help :)

      • Paul

        my security deposit can be returned at last month bc my landlord does a month to month lease after the year lease is up. basically it’s his way of trying to make me forget he has my money but i don’t forget!!

  • Dennis

    I live in Montgomery County Pennsylvania my landlord gave me a letter stating that he needs to raise the rent is there a rent cap certain percentage of something that is common practice or law my rent is being increased 150 a month for the fish in sea its 600 he stated that next month he wants 750 due to cost of living .this seems quite excessive to me thank you for your time I appreciate it …..bewildered

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Dennis

      As far as I know, there is no statute that regulates how much rent can be increased.

      With that said, the landlord can only increase rent at the end/renewal of a fixed-term lease, or once a month for month-to-month leases.

      Generally speaking, rental increases usually range from 3-10%. However, since there’s no cap in PA (that I’m aware of), there’s nothing to stop your landlord from raising it 25%, if he thinks that is market rate and he can get that much for it.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • Chantay Jeffers

    My landlord is selling his property. When he told me he had an offer, I told him I would buy it. He then said he already signed the papers and it is too late. Is there a right of first refusal in pa law for tenants or does it have to be included in the lease?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Chantay,

      I’m not sure, and even if there is, it’s usually at the city/county level – not the state level. I suggest calling the local Realtors association. If there is a first right of refusal, then you would have the right to void their purchase contract (meaning, it’s not too late). However, you would have to buy it at the price that someone else is willing to pay. First right of refusal does not mean “discount”.

      Also, a local real estate attorney would probably know the answer to your question. I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t take this as legal advice.

      Good luck! Please do let me know how it goes.

  • Krystal

    Hey,

    I recently registered my dogs with my landlord. As stated in the lease, I paid the $525 fee. $300 is refundable, $200 is non refundable, and $25 each month for pet rent. I just got a call from my landlord stating that they want an additional $1,050 and that I have to pay $525 per pet, but no where in my lease agreement does it state that the pet fees are per pet. Can they come after me for the $1,050 or no since the lease doesn’t state per pet.

    Thank you!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Krystal,

      Both parties would have to follow the lease agreement. As good as their intentions are, they can’t enforce something thats not in the lease.

      With that said, it’s common knowledge that pet fees are typically per pet. However, if your lease clearly says two (2) dogs, but then says you only have to pay $525, it would be reasonable to think that is the total cost.

      I suggest reading your lease line by line to ensure you are correct about the lease not mentioning “per pet”. Worst case scenario is that they try to terminate your lease, and then you have a legal battle ahead of you to stay in the unit.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer and if your landlord continues to push back, I suggest talking to an attorney to handle this.

  • Rosemary Reilly

    My elderly mother’s lease states that if she needs an exterminator it is on her, but she must only used the exterminator of the landlord’s choosing. Her neighbor experienced bed bugs 5-6 months ago. The neighbor was instructed to use the landlord’s exterminator and not to tell any of the tenants. My mother’s apt is now infested. Isn’t the landlord obligated to inform the other tenants? It is clearly now a building problem, why is it on the tenants to clear up?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Rosemary,

      On a individual unit level, often times the lease will mandate that it is the tenant’s responsibility to handle pests. This is based on the premise that the tenant is the person who caused the infestation in the first place. The thought is “someone must have brought the pests into the unit, because they weren’t there when the tenant moved in”.

      However, when a unit problem becomes a building problem, it is in the best interest of the landlord to step in and have the entire building treated.

      If the issue becomes bad enough, and the landlord refuses to do anything about it, the tenants can call the local county housing or health department. They will be able to guide the tenants into filing a complaint and they may even be able to send someone out to inspect the premise. Check your local county’s website to locate the appropriate phone number to call.

  • Sandra Parra

    Hi Lucas,

    Help! Quick question. I live in PA. I am in the middle of a horrible dispute with my tenants for damages which I discovered once they moved out on Oct 1st, 2014. They occupied my house for 29 months and now want to charge me interest on their security deposit to cover those damages. They refused to sign a lease after 18 months and lived in our home for 12 months without a lease. Do I really owe them interest on their security?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Sandra,

      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))

      According to my understanding of this, a landlord owes interest to a tenant for the months after the 24th month of occupancy. I hope that helps. Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer.

  • Lorie Spohn

    Is landlord required, in PA, to replace carpet if the tenant who moves out has had a dog in the apartment?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Lorie

      In my limited research of the statutes, I didn’t see anything that would force a landlord to replace carpet between tenants. Generally speaking, that kind of decision is usually left up to the landlord to use his/her own judgement. Keep in mind and not a lawyer nor is my understanding of PA statues constitute legal advice.

  • CiCi

    My one year lease started Sept 1, 2014. My lease clearly states that the property will include a fenced (6 ft tall fence) yard will be installed by a date “closest to Sept 1 (pending professional installer schedule). My landlord (and his wife) failed to arrange for an installer and were in total agreement that I as well work on arranging for an installer (lease states my part of expense will include payment to installer). Long story short I secured an installer from a very reputable local fencing company. My landlord and his wife agreed with the arrangement. My landlord met with the installer along with me. I signed the contract with the fencing company and I paid for the materials ($1, 400) plus paid half of the installation fee, i. e., $500. During the week of the installation my landlord complained of the “quality” of installation. Any reasonable person whether skilled or unskilled in the area of fence installation would NOT judge the job to be anything less than quality and satisfactory. However, my landlord within a very unreasonable presentation and attitude (including frequently with the smell of alcohol on his breath) claims that the work is not up to his standards and has taken the action of putting a stop to the project, hence, interfering with my contract with the fence company. Of central dynamic import, I have paid two months rent sine Sept 1st in addition to paying the ‘last month’s rent’ and a security deposit of one month’s rent plus a $500 pet deposit; totaling $5,100. I still have NOT been able to move into the property due to my need of the fence per our lease agreement…AND… my landlord and his wife’s verbal agreement/promise to me of getting a washer/dryer hook-up on the first floor (versus the basement). They promised to have this done NO LATER than the first week in October. Still to this date that is not done…AND… the landlord has not repaired/secured the basement window which is broken to the ‘open’ position…AND…he has not replaced a side entry door which is always jammed to the point that it CANNOT be opened without extreme force, and then once it is opened it does not reliably lock! The bottom-line is that I have paid the above said money…PLUS $2,000 towards the installation of my fence, and the landlord has not provided the premises to be move in ready! I am going to meet with an attorney this Monday who I have briefed on the matter. PLEASE, tell me in your legal opinion if I have the Tenant Right to break my lease and be paid back the money I have provided to him. I also plan to discuss with my attorney other financial damages that have result due to his non-compliance with the lease, in addition to violating code for the door safety, etc. I am being treated by physicians for medical problems that this entire situation has significantly aggravated. There is more to this matter that I believe will strengthen my case further, yet for now I will leave my inquiry to you at this. Thank you and I look forward to your response ASAP ! ! !

    • CiCi

      Hi again, Lucas,
      Of note, I realize that you are not an attorney, so please disregard my ‘typo’ that asked for your “legal” opinion. Instead, I meant to merely ask “in your opinion and/or research of the literature.” Also of note, I have written this knowing that there is a minor to moderate chance that my landlord will happen to read this inquiry. It does not matter one way or the other to me if he does, as all that I have states is factual, and all of which he is well aware. Thank you again and I hope to hear back from you soon.

      • Lucas Hall

        Hi CiCi,

        In my opinion, it sounds like your landlord is in breach of contract for not delivering the house in a condition which was promised (by a specific date) when you signed the lease.

        Further, though you agreed to pay for the fence materials, the landlord is really making out on the deal since he gets to keep those materials after you leave. If I were your landlord, I wouldn’t have argued with anything since I was getting a fence for free (or at very little cost). If he is not delivering on his end of the deal, I suggest considering suing him for full reimbursement of the fence.

        Your lawyer would be able to look at your specific lease and tell you if the landlord is indeed in breach of contract. If he is, then you could potentially break the lease, or at the very least, give the landlord a notice to fix the violation (i.e. finish the fence) or you will be terminating the lease and seeking reimbursement for your losses.

        …just my non-legal two cents. :)

        Best of luck to you in this situation.

        • CiCi

          Hi Lucas,

          Thank you so Very Much for your helpful and Excellent feed-back, insights, and advice, which I am going to move forward with through filing suit today! Thank for your well wishes and for your time and thought given to this matter, as well as this very helpful forum that you provide and oversee.

          Sincerely,
          CiCi

  • Deanne

    I signed a lease on 8/1/2011 that stated if I did not give written notice 30 days before
    the end of the first year then the lease would automatically renew as a year to year
    lease, the landlord never had me sign any kind of renewal lease so if the original
    lease still valid without a new signed lease every year?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Deanne

      Generally speaking, if your lease is constructed to automatically renew, then no renewal document is needed.

      I hope that helps.

      • Tristan

        Is this still valid if only one person from the original (3 person) lease is renewing?

        What happens if we gave less than 60 days notice that we would not be renewing?

  • Bobadelphia

    My cousins landlord sold her building and is forcing her to move. She has a 1 year lease that is not up. Can’t she stay until the lease is up?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Bob,

      Generally speaking, a fixed-term lease does NOT terminate just because the property changes ownership. Your cousin’s lease is with a property address, not a landlord. Landlords/Owners can change, but the lease usually stays intact as long as the property is still habitable.

      The only exceptions are if the lease allows either landlord to terminate upon the sale of the property, or if there are local laws that allow for this.

      My suggestion would be to talk to a locally licensed attorney – which I am not.

  • nancy

    I moved out Aug 31st and the landlord sent me an email stating that she is keeping the security deposit and speaking to the county magistrate to determine pursuing full coverage of damages. She sent a small list of items ( which I am okay with because they were prior to me moving in) I have not heard from her since 9/21. Could you please tell me how long she has to sue me? I

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Nancy,

      It would depend on your lease. Written contracts have a 4 year statute of limitations according to § 5525

      There is a 2 year statute limit on property damage according to § 5524

      http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/42/00.055..HTM

      As a general rule, a landlord is not allowed to charge you for preexisting damage. The key is to prove it. You are innocent until proven guilty.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. I suggest talking to a lawyer if you are served with a summons.

  • Carol

    Our Landlord was notified in July 2014 of a water leak issue, to this day that leak is still present, there was black mold growing under the bathroom sink ( we looked and none of the pipes in the bathroom are leaking) the leak caused our bedroom carpeting to be soaked for most of the last few months, when we paid this months rent, we told him in writing that we were actively looking for a place due to this problem and many others ( a fire of a unit next to us melted the skirting, and the door to the unit we live in, you can see daylight through the door ) around the 5th of the month he was told we found a place, we have moved. While moving I found water damage/mold on my bedroom dresser ( I still owe monies for this dresser) My question is with the water leak for that long of a period I feel the landlord breached our contract and that even though a full 30 day notice was not given we are entitled to our security back. Any input?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Carol,

      If you had a fixed-term lease, were you ever granted permission to break the lease. If not, you might still be liable for rent in the contract.

      If it was a month-to-month, then either party can terminate the lease with proper notice (see statutes above).

      If the leak was causing habitability issues, you might be able to terminate the lease for that, but you would still need to go through the formal process of providing a notice to remedy or quit. Without that, it just seems like you abandoned the lease, regardless of your opinion. The name of the game is documentation and processes. I’m sorry that your landlord was lazy, but you might have dug yourself into a hole, and I’m not sure if you will be able to get any money back. If your landlord wants to be nasty, he can take you to court for the remaining rent due on the lease.

      I wish I had better news for you. If you want a legal option (which I would highly suggest), please contact a lawyer immediately. At the lease, a lawyer would be able to help you clean this up, so you have a chance at getting your deposit back. I’m not a lawyer so please don’t take this as legal advice.

  • Amy

    My family owns a trailer park in PA and we have been having an issue with a tenant that keeps getting behind on rent. They get behind then will pay the monthly rent and extra for several months to try and catch up. They never catch up and we just discovered that they vacated the rental unit (trailer) three weeks ago with out any notice to us (the landlord). They are on a month to month lease. I have several questions about this situation.

    Does this constitute abandonment?
    Can we enter the property? (There is a possibility of cats left behind)
    Can we change the locks and remove any personal property to s storage unit so that we can repair damage? _ all carpet needs replaced there is mold growing on it but they never notified us that any repairs needed made and they stole the oven/stove – it is no longer in the unit. (I visited these tenants two months ago and found this out)

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Amy,

      Please know that I’m not a lawyer, and in this case I suggest you talk with an attorney before taking any action.

      In my non-legal option, yes, this would be considered abandonment (or at least that’s how I would treat it). However, I would try to contact the previous tenants to confirm (just be sure)

      If they left behind any personal property, you would have to treat it carefully. Theres a section in this article about personal property – the last bullet at this link: http://www.landlordology.com/pennsylvania-landlord-tenant-laws/#rent

      If they were my tenants, I would send them notice on the personal property ASAP, and also tally up the damages, and start a small claims lawsuit against them for compensation.

      Again, don’t do anything without getting legal advice first. I’m just a fellow landlord, trying to help.

  • sally johns

    I have a question, we recently went to district majister and won a money judgement the problem is the tenant has the signed copy of the lease and now their appealing the judgement without a copy of our signed lease can we still win

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Sally,

      Aren’t the two copies identical? Why would the tenant’s copy be any different? Why would having a copy of the lease matter in court? Did you win a judgement based on false information?

      I’m happy to give advice, but I don’t understand.

      • sally johns

        Yes the copiez are identical but our copy isn’t signed because they kept the signed copy . We did already win a money judgement but they are appealing it today so we have to go back to court. Even if our copy of the lease isnt signed its still a binding contract right?

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Sally,

          I think you’re overthinking this, and worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet. You already have the judgement.

          If the tenants want to appeal it, they will have to lie, and say that they never agreed to the lease in the first place, and that they never moved-in and that you made it all up. Then, a judge will have to believe them.

          I think you should just wait and see what happens at the hearing. There’s really nothing you can do to prepare/predict what a liar or irrational person would do.

          With that said, please know that I’m not a lawyer so please don’t consider this legal advice. Next time, don’t let anyone move in until you have a signed copy of the lease :)

          Good luck to you!

  • Therese

    I have a serious problem and need help!!! I have a tenant who has had the gas off since May of this year (2014), she owes $1300 for her gas. The lease states that she has to pay her own utilities. I am not putting the gas bill in my name when she ran her bill up to $1300 and I have to chase her around every month for a $350 rent payment and a $39 water/sewage bill that I have to slit between her and the tenant upstairs. I have tried to help her and I have talked to her about this multiple times and now it’s to the point where her attitude disgusts me and I just want my property back. I am so scared that my pipes are going to freeze, this weekend it is going to be cold and possibly go below 30 degrees, but she cannot just go over to the thermostat and turn it on! Please does anyone have advice for me??!!!

    Thank you so much for any help!!!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Therese,

      I’m sorry this is happening to you.

      If the gas bill was really in the tenants name (and you’re not mentioned anywhere on it), can you just call the gas company and setup a new account in your name? Hopefully, they won’t force a new (unrelated) account holder to pay the debt from a previous account holder, and then they will pursue the tenant for the debt.

      I agree with you that it would be best if you didn’t get in the middle of that situation. However, as a landlord, you have an obligation to provide a habitable premise, which includes heat. So, in the end, the debt will still be the tenant’s, but you can’t allow the heat to remain off in the winter. Not only will your pipes freeze, but so could your tenant, and you could be held liable if you knew about the heat being off (even if it was the tenant’s fault).

      What blows my mind is that your tenant doesn’t seem to care that the heat is off. Is she playing a game of chicken with you – seeing who will pay the bill first?

      This is what I would do if I were in your shoes:
      1. Get the heat turned on. I’d put the gas in my name, and if the utility company forces me to pay the debt, so be it. I’ll just have to sue the tenant later to get it back. A frozen pipe can cost more than $1,300 to repair.
      2. If the tenant is currently behind on rent (or the next time she fails to pay), I would send her a “10 Day Notice to Pay or Quit” (68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b)), which means that she has 10 days to pay in full, or the lease will be terminated and she would need to leave before the 10th day.
      3. If she failed to vacate or pay me in full, then I would file an eviction action at the local courthouse. Once my case is heard, and I win, the judge will order the sheriff to remove the tenant (and her belongings) by force. You can also ask for a judgement for the debt too. It’s against the law in almost every state to change the locks or shut off the utilities in order to get a tenant to leave.

      Alternatively, you could just ask the tenant “hey, listen, this isn’t working out. The heat is off, you’ve racked up a large debt. Would you like leave? I won’t make you pay for any future rent if you leave in the next 7 days and clean the apartment.”

      Sometimes you can get a tenant to leave just by asking. Other times you might have to sweeten the deal by forgiving a small debt, or terminating the lease with no future rent responsibilities. With that said, I would definitely not promise to forgive all the past debt. You should have the right to sue her later if you want. The most important thing is to get her out of there, and get the heat turned on.

      I hope that helps. Please keep in mind, I’m NOT a lawyer, so please don’t consider this legal advice. I’m just an experienced landlord, trying to help. :)

  • Jim

    Hello,

    We started with a one-year lease that changed to a month-to-month lease (1st to 30th, etc) and the lease stated tenant must give 30 days notice prior to leaving. We gave notice on 10/13 that we’re leaving 11/14. So i was going to pro-rate the November rent for 14 days. The rental agent is saying that we must pay for all of November and also keep utilities on for the entire month. I can’t find any legal reference to fight this. What /who is correct?

    Thank you.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jim,

      In my non-legal opinion, I think you need to do what the lease says. Your lease may say that you have to give notice as of the first of the month – therefore your 30 days wouldn’t end until 11/31. If it’s not in the lease, or a statute/law, then you wouldn’t have to do it. I suggest saying to the agent: “prove it”. For him/her to show you the lease clause or statute.

      Usually tenants are responsible for the entire month, but the PA statute doesn’t clarify this.

      68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b) says
      (b) Except as provided for in subsection (c), in case of the expiration of a term or of a forfeiture for breach of the conditions of the lease where the lease is for any term of one year or less or for an indeterminate time, the notice shall specify that the tenant shall remove within fifteen days from the date of service thereof, and when the lease is for more than one year, then within thirty days from the date of service thereof. In case of failure of the tenant, upon demand, to satisfy any rent reserved and due, the notice shall specify that the tenant shall remove within ten days from the date of the service thereof.

      • Jim

        Lucas,

        Yes, at a closer reading of the lease (which i didn’t have in hand when i originally posted), it states 30 days notice, then pay to end of renewal term. M-t-M, so until Nov. 31.
        Oh well, more out of pocket, but more time to move…

        Thanks for the reply.

  • Cara

    Hi, I moved into my rental home in july 2013. My landlord notified me that he would manage the yard and such. Well every weekend minus a few weeks in the winter when it is snowy out he is at the house. Saturday and sunday all day from like 11am till 6 pm, even taking lawn chairs out for himself and his wife to have lunch. Is this legal, he even comes randomly throughout the week. I cant take it I feel like I have no privacy. He loves to find a reason to come inside the house and I have reasons to believe he is inside while I’m at work. What should I do??

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Cara,

      Though there is no exact statute that mandates the landlord give you a certain amount of notice before coming over, it is customary, and the courts usually frown upon surprise visits.

      You do have “the right to quiet enjoyment” which means that excessive disturbances from your landlord would violate that – especially if not notice of arrival was given.

      As a tenant, you have exclusive rights to occupy that place. Your landlord shouldn’t be barging in whenever he wants. You have the right to privacy.

      Though a landlord is allowed to make repairs and perform other duties to operate the rental business, it must be business related. Many landlords think that they can snoop around, which is illegal.

      My suggestion would be to have a respectful conversation with your landlord and very directly ask him if he can give you 24 hours notice before arriving. If he refuses, then I think you should talk to a lawyer. Perhaps for a hundred bucks, the lawyer might write a cease and desist letter to the landlord – which would give you the muscle you need to file a court action if he continues invading your privacy.

      …just my two cents. Please keep in mind that I’m NOT a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. A licensed attorney would be able to give you legal advice specific to your situation. Good luck, and please let me know how it goes.

  • KSauder

    I heard today from a prospective tenant that they have been required to pay for carpet cleaning at move-out. Is there a law for or against this practice?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi K,

      I haven’t heard anything about that, nor could I ever imagine a legislature passing such a law to enforce or prohibit such a law..

      However, if the lease requires the tenant to pay for a carpet cleaning, then it become a contractual obligation, and the tenant is responsible for it. It basically comes down to the fact that if the tenant wasn’t willing to fulfill the contract, then the tenant shouldn’t have signed it.

      With that said, if the lease doesn’t require you to clean the carpets, then you wouldn’t have to… unless a cleaning is required to restore the carpets to the condition they were in when you first moved in.

      Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor do I live in PA. This isn’t legal advice. It’s just my opinion as a landlord.

  • Jim

    My father and step mother own rental unit. I’ve never signed lease. I pay like everyone else does. Been having septic issues. She told my fiancée the other day if the septic doesn’t fix itself she will board up the windows and everyone including those who signed a lease will be out. Is this possible? The other thing is that my father asked that I take his role. Fixing things and such. I already maintain yard and do small repairs. If I take on his role shouldn’t I get something out of this all besides a headache? Like cheaper rent? Remember I never signed a lease and 90 percent of the time I’ve always paid cash. My father wouldn’t do anything to hurt me but his wife is about her and her son and my father loves to do as he is told. Looking for some good advice.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jim,

      Without a working septic system, the unit become uninhabitable. However, that doesn’t mean the lease is cancelled. The landlord is still responsible for providing a habitable place to live.

      In cases where a massive repair needs to happen, the landlord should really provide another similar property for the tenants to live in, or pay for their hotel stay while the repairs are made.

      The bad news is that without signing a lease, you really only have a month-to-month tenancy, in which the landlords can terminate with 15 days (68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b)). So even if the septic take fails, they can terminate your lease fairly quickly.

      Even if they weren’t your family, you’re in a bad situation. You really don’t have much leverage since you don’t have a fixed-term lease.

      I’ve always recommend that you don’t rent to/from friends or family. It always seems to change the relationship, and Thanksgiving dinner tastes different when you owe someone at the dinner table a bunch of money (or a working septic tank in your case).

      Would it be too bold to suggest that you voluntarily look for another place to live? It might make your family dynamics a whole lot easier.

      • Jim

        Well Lucas it’s my father so either way it would be a little funny at the thanksgiving table. Either I stay and help or leave and hope he doesn’t think I’m a bad guy. I guess it’s time to sit my father down and have a nice long talk . He recently asked me to start doing all the work on the rental properties it’s only two, three including my own.

  • Tami

    We rented to a couple that signed a 1 year lease and they are 2 months into the lease. One person wants out of the lease. We would like both parties to leave if we agree to terminate the lease. What are our options if the 2nd person insists on staying, but can’t afford the rent on their own?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Tami,

      Thanks for your questions. I think your response should be rather simple: “I’m sorry, you don’t qualify for the unit on your own, so we can’t rent to only you”.

      However, if they aren’t currently breaking any rules and paying their rent on-time, then you can’t terminate it without their permission. You also can’t modify it without their permission.

      If everyone agrees to terminate the lease, then they will have leave. Once the lease is terminated, and if they don’t leave, you’ll have to file an eviction action with the courts to remove the remaining tenant.

      If they all refuse to terminate the lease, you’ll just have to wait until the remaining applicant doesn’t pay rent on-time before you can terminate it.

      Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor do I live in PA. This isn’t legal advice. It’s just my opinion as a landlord.

      Please let me know how it goes! Good Luck!

  • Christina

    Hi Lucas,

    We just moved out of a very bad situation, just horrible landlords. We also got into a really bad spot financially and owe our last two months rent. The landlord finally agreed to take the security for one month and we owe the last month with late fees. The landlord is trying to tell us that the late fee will continue to add up until that is paid. We have vacated the property, as has all of our stuff. We are good tenants…take really good care of the properties we rent, have great rental references, always paid on time. But I got really sick and my husband was working two hours away, so the last two months there, things were bad for us financially, like I said. We agree that we should pay a late fee for the last month but we’re pretty sure they can’t legally continue to rack up late fees. Can you clarify this?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Christina

      In PA, there’s no statute that regulates late fees, however in my experience as a landlord, I can tell you that many Judges don’t think compounding late fees are “reasonable”.

      However, I don’t think there’s nothing wrong with a small DAILY late fee, such as $10-20 or so.
      So, if your rent is late, and you get whopped with a 5-10% late charge, the landlord shouldn’t charge you another 5-10% the next month for the same debt. However if you fail to pay the next month’s rent, then you could get a one-time fee on that as well. Small daily fees are usually acceptable (in most states) however a Judge might throw those out too. It just depends on the situation.

      I hope that clarifies things. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, so don’t take this as legal advice.

  • Butch

    Don’t some of these rules not apply to landlords who only own a very small number of rental units? For example, I don’t think a landlord who only owns one rental property is required to pay interest on a tenant’s security deposit, no matter how long the tenant occupies the property. Is this correct, and are there other exceptions such as this for landlords who do not own multiple units?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Butch

      In my limited research, I haven’t seen anything that grants a waiver to landlords with only one unit.

      In fact, the statute on Deposits and interest says in Section 250.511a in section (e), “This section applies only to the rental of residential property”. I would assume it applies to all residential properties, regardless of the # of properties you own.

      I hope that helps. Please do check with a local attorney, because they will know for sure, and be able to apply it to your situation. I’m not a lawyer.

  • Denise Vernon

    Is the landlord responsible to have a working heating system in his home?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Denise,

      Generally speaking, a landlord must provide the means for each room in the unit to reach comfortable temperatures, usually around 65-68 degrees. It doesn’t have to be a central heating system but it could be electric baseboards, wood stove, or even space heaters. It doesn’t really matter how the unit is heated, only that it is.

      I don’t know the statute that supports this but it’s probably in the section on habitability. Further, this minimum temp can vary from city to city. To be sure, you should probably check with a lawyer – which I’m not.

      If you don’t have any heat and the landlord refuses to do anything, then contact a lawyer immediately to get help with a rent reduction or a lease termination.

  • Lisa

    I have a tenant who is in the hospital on life support. I don’t have any family contact information. Rental agreement is MTM. A welfare check was done by myself and a PA state trooper. The place is a total disaster. There are tenants downstairs. I am concerned of safety issues due to the condition of the apartment. If the upstairs tenant remains on life support into the next month can I enter and clean the apartment or do I wait until the keys are returned to me.( not sure how that will happen)

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Lisa,

      That’s a tough situation. Honestly, if I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t try to move any of their stuff or take possession of the unit while the tenant is paid up on rent. However, since it’s a month-to-month, and if you want to reclaim it, I would suggest that you give proper notice to terminate the tenancy (15 days (68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b)), and then if the tenant is still on life support, you might have to go through the formal eviction process afterwards to take possession. There are also strict laws regarding the abandonment of personal property. (see above)

      It would be best if you could try to contact a family member to clear out the person’s belongings prior to the lease termination, and make arrangements for the tenant should he/she get better. Try looking on facebook for friends and family and reaching out that way. Someone is bound to have a phone number of a sibling.

      If I were in your shoes, I would also talk to an attorney, just to make sure I cover all my basis. I’d hate to get sued by the family on a technicality. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, so this isn’t legal advice. I’m just an experienced landlord trying to help.

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