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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1,219 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?

    • Will

      Generally speaking, a landlord can limit occupancy to two persons per bedroom. For a two bedroom apartment, this would be four people. It is the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s opinion that this is a fair maximum number of occupants under the Fair Housing Act.

      On a side note, I’ve heard of some states/localities requiring landlords to allow two persons per bedroom and one person on top of that, so up to five people would be allowed in a two bedroom apartment in this case. Of course, whether or not this is true will depend on where you are renting.

  • 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?

    • Will

      Both are legal, and both are fairly regularly practiced, so it’s really up to how you want to structure the charges. Another interesting idea is splitting the bill based on square footage of each unit. For example, if one tenant has a unit with 1,000 square feet and the other tenant has a unit with 1,500 square feet, the first tenant will pay 40% of the water bill, and the second tenant will pay 60% of the water bill since the total square footage of the property would be 2,500 square feet. Any of these options are legal, and it’s up to you to decide which one is most fair and will work best.

  • 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?

    • Will

      Everything here seems legal. If you agreed to pay the water bill but didn’t, you landlord is not being unreasonable by asking you to leave. He even sent you a copy of the bill/statement (probably).

  • 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!

    • Will

      Personally, I’m not a fan of pet fees. I think it makes more sense to increase the amount of the security deposit, if possible. That way, the tenant will know that they’ll receive the security deposit back if they and the pet(s) treat the unit kindly. A non-refundable fee is no motivation.

      If you are going to charge a fee, I would minimize it. You could instead charge increased rent for having the pet, usually $50-75/mo higher than the rent is now.

  • 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?

    • Will

      Assuming that your tenants are no longer renting on a current lease, they are generally owed ninety days to vacate the property, not including any time it takes for the notice to reach the tenant. This notice must be in writing and must be either hand-delivered/posted on the property or sent to the tenant’s address for service from the lease agreement. If the tenants have not vacated after the ninety day notice period has ended, you can then file for eviction. Generally speaking, leases do survive the sale of a property, so I don’t think selling would really resolve your issue.

  • 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

    • Will

      Not necessarily. While your landlord is replacing/servicing your air conditioner, I don’t see any reason why he might not look at or notice other things in the unit. Let’s say he notices carpet stains or damage to the walls. He’ll probably ask you about them, and you’ll probably be responsible to undo the damage (or pay to have this done) unless the unit was in the same condition when you got the keys. This, of course, excludes normal wear and tear.

  • 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.

  • Jay

    Recently I was evicted from my home for falling behind on my rent. A judgement was made by the court for 1825$ ( one month rent plus past due water bill and deposit for my cats that I acquired after moving in). Now they are claiming I owe $6500 and threatening me to keep my belongings until I make payment. Is that legal? I am aware of the ten day period to make arrangements for my things removed and did contact in that time. But they continue to say they have rights to my personal property.
    Also, in the period I’ve been vacated, they emailed me with reference to my personal financial business which they obviously found in my files in the house. Are they allowed to go through my personal paperwork and attempt to use againist me. Any advice??

  • Diana

    My boyfriend and i got into a fight. I got injuried and i begged him to take me to ER. He refused all night and day until i had someone else pick me up. He took my house keys away. I asked him numerous times to allow me back inside to gather some school clothes for my 3 children and also my childs breathing machine. He refused. He said if i go into the house, he will have me arrested. I have been living there the exact amount of months as he has and the electric is in my name. My children also attend school in the district. Can he legally keep me from living there??

    • Will

      Assuming you guys are renting the property, is your name on the lease agreement? If you guys own the house, is your name on the deed to the property? That’s what it really comes down to in the end; if your name is on either of these documents, your boyfriend has no right to keep you from living there. If not, I don’t see much you could really do. To get your belongings back, though, you may be able to get a police officer to go to the property with you.

  • bob wipple

    We have lived in the same development for 3 years. Recently my landlord decided to change how our utilities are calculated, therefore affecting how much our home is costing us each month. Can I decide as a tenant that this change to my lease is unacceptable and break my lease with no penalty?

    • Will

      What is spelled out in your lease is what is legally binding. Say, for example, that you lived in one side of a duplex and had agreed in your lease to pay one half of all utilities. If the landlord/owner later decides to install separate meters for each unit, you are still required to pay half of all utilities regardless of what the meters say unless you agree, typically in writing, to pay utilities based on the meter readouts. When your lease expires, your landlord may have you sign an updated lease that states that the cost of the utilities will, from then on, be calculated in a different way, but until you sign or otherwise agree to pay a different amount, the landlord generally cannot require you to do so.

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