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Pennsylvania Tenant-Landlord Law

by Caroline Merkin

Pennsylvania-Landlord-Tenant-Law-Fast-Facts

Security Deposits

  • The collection of security deposits in Pennsylvania isn’t required, but most landlords require them to prove a tenant’s financial stability and guarantee a payment for damaged property
  • In Pennsylvania, the landlord isn’t allowed to charge more than two month’s rent from the tenant for the first year of renting and no more than one month’s during subsequent years. (68 P.S. §§ 250.511a)
  • After a lease has finished or been terminated, the landlord has 30 days to return the full or partial portion of the deposit back. (68 P.S. §§ 250.512)
    • A landlord is allowed to withhold partial payment if there is damage in excess of normal wear and tear, unpaid rent, or a violation of the lease.
      • These deductions must be explained to the tenant within 30 days in a written, itemized list. (68 P.S. §§ 250.512)
    • If the landlord fails to return the payment, he/she may be liable to pay the tenant double the amount of the deposit they are owed plus interest (68 P.S. §§ 250.512(c))
  • In Pennsylvania, a landlord is allowed to commingle with his/her personal assets if it is in a federally or state-regulated institution and the tenant must be notified in writing of its location. (68 P.S. §§ 250.511b)
    • If a tenant is in a rental property for more than 2 years, they are entitled to interest on the security deposit (68 P.S. §§ 250.511b(b))

Rent and Late fees

  • There is no rent control or limit in Pennsylvania, so the landlord is allowed to charge any agreed upon amount.
  • There are no statutes on how or when (beginning of the month or the end) rent is to be paid.
  • If there is an increase in rent, the tenant must be notified 30 days prior to being in effect.
  • The tenant is allowed to withhold rent if the property is deemed uninhabitable by a government agency or department. (68 P.S. §§ 250.206)
  • There is no statutes regarding late fees in Pennsylvania, but most landlords do charge them.
    • If a tenant hasn’t paid rent 10 days after its due date, a landlord is allowed to declare a lease violation and require an appropriate late fee.

Notices and Entry

  • There is no statute in Pennsylvania for a required amount of time prior to entry to make repairs.
  • If a lease agreement is a year or less, the landlord must notify a tenant 15 days in advance to terminating tenancy early (68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b))
    • If more than a year, a landlord has 30 days to notify a tenant to terminate a lease early. (68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b))
    • If on a month to month lease, the landlord has 15 days to notify a tenant to terminate a lease early. (68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b))
  • If the tenant wishes to terminate the lease early, they have to give a notice period of 15 days if lease for less than one year or periodic, 30 days if lease for one year or more.

Disclosures

  • If there are lead paint hazards on the property, a landlord is federally required to disclose them to the tenant along with an information pamphlet
    • The same goes for mold presence.
  • There are no statutes regarding domestic violence situations.

Eviction Laws

Eviction Step #1: Inform your tenant with an official notice

In Pennsylvania, the landlord must provide an eviction notice stating the reason for eviction and the date the tenant must vacate by prior to evicting a tenant if they are behind on rent or violated the lease agreement. A mailed notice is void.

Eviction Step #2: Wait for the tenant to respond

When it is failure to pay rent, the tenant has 10 days to pay you otherwise the eviction notice can be filed with the courts.

When there is another lease violation (e.g. subletting), the tenant has 15 days if lease for less than one year or periodic, 30 days if lease for one year or more to resolve the violation from the point that the eviction notice is served. Otherwise the eviction notice will be filed with the courts.

Eviction Step #3: File With Court

If the tenant has not paid you within the time period outlined in Step #2, then file with the local courts for the official eviction. Both you and the tenant will receive a specific date for the hearing.

Eviction Step #4: Attend the court date

You or your lawyer will want to attend the court hearing and bring proper documentation of the lease violation with you. You should prepare to bring the following, at a minimum:

  1. Your lease agreement
  2. Evidence of payment failures / history
  3. Proof that you served the tenant (Step #1)
  4. Any communications or other helpful records

Eviction Step #5: Sheriff to remove the tenant

If the tenant does not leave on their own, then you have a right, within a certain amount of time, to request for a sheriff to remove the tenant.

Eviction Step #6: Collecting damages

Most likely, the tenant owes you money for the lease violation. Here are some ways to collect money from the damages:

  1. Garnish wages
  2. File in small claims court
  3. Use a private debt collector

For more information on Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant laws please visit their website here.