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State Landlord Tenant Law

Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Law and Regulations

by Editor | ezLandlordForms
Pennsylvania State Capitol Harrisburg Landlord laws

The Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Law: An Overview

  • The law is designed to protect the rights of both landlords and tenants, and to ensure that they are treated fairly and equally under the Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Law.
  • The law is a set of rules and regulations that govern the relationship between landlords and tenants in the state of Pennsylvania.
  • The Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Law covers a wide range of topics, including the rights and obligations of both landlords and tenants, the eviction process, and the resolution of disputes between landlords and tenants.

Is there a limit to the maximum amount of rent a landlord can charge and are there rent control/rent stabilization policies or laws in Pennsylvania?

The state of Pennsylvania has not established limits on rental amounts, rent control ,or stabilization.

May I charge an application fee, a late rent charge, or a returned payment fee?

If you are a landlord in Pennsylvania, it is important to familiarize yourself with the pennsylvania landlord tenant law. The law states that landlords can charge an application fee, a late rent charge, or a returned payment fee; however, some stipulations must be adhered to for these fees to be valid.

  • Application Fee: An application fee may be charged and may be nonrefundable; whether a tenant is approved or not. There are no statutes governing the limits on how much may be charged for an application fee.
  • Late charge: There are no statutes governing the limits on how much may be charged for a late fee; however, late fees must bear a reasonable relation to the consequential damages that a landlord incurs in receiving rent late.
  • Returned Payment Fee: A service charge if written notice of the service charge was specified within the lease shall not exceed $50 unless the payee is charged fees over $50. If the payee is charged fees over $20, then the service charge shall not exceed the actual amount of the fees. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4105 Bad checks

Given all of the requirements set by Pennsylvania landlord tenant law, landlords must take the time to educate themselves on this important matter to stay within compliance

May I use a daily late charge?

There are no statutes governing whether a daily or per day late charge may be used, however, the courts have held that they are not to be used as a penalty and that late fees must bear a reasonable relation to the consequential damages that a landlord incurs in receiving rent late.

What is Pennsylvania’s law on security deposits?
Understanding Pennsylvania landlord tenant law regarding security deposits is essential for both renters and landlords alike.

  1. Security deposits in Pennsylvania are governed by the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951.
  2. Under the Act, a landlord can only charge a security deposit that is equal to one month’s rent.
  3. The security deposit must be held in a separate account and can only be used for specific purposes, such as repairing damage to the rental unit or cleaning the unit when the tenant moves out.
  4. The landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant within 30 days after the tenant moves out unless there are damages that need to be deducted.
  5. If the landlord does not return the security deposit within 30 days, the tenant can sue the landlord in small claims court.

What is the maximum amount I can collect as a security deposit?

Landlords may not require a sum in excess of 2 months’ rent for a security deposit during the first year. During the second and subsequent years of the lease, or during any renewal of the original lease, the security deposit may not exceed 1 month’s rent under the Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Law. Additionally, if a tenant has been in possession of the leased premises for a period of 5 years or greater, any increase or increases in rent shall not require a concomitant increase in any security deposit.

Under what circumstances can a landlord claim the security deposit? 

Understanding the Pennsylvania landlord tenant law is a great way to maximize your security deposit return. It outlines all circumstances in which a landlord is allowed to claim the security deposit, usually for repairs due to damage or unpaid rent. Typically, a landlord may keep all or part of the security deposit when there are physical damages that have not been caused by normal wear and tear, major cleaning needed that was not completed at move-out, or delinquent rent obligations left unattended. It is important to note that if any of these scenarios occur, it is required that landlords submit supporting documentation when making claims to retain a tenant’s security deposit.

How much time does a tenant have to dispute a security deposit deduction? 

If you’re a tenant in Pennsylvania, it’s important to know your rights under the Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Law. Specifically, within 45 days of receiving an itemized list of deductions made from their security deposit, tenants have the right to dispute any portions they find unfair or unjustified. If a tenant decides to challenge their landlord’s decisions, they must provide written notice as soon as possible in order to protect their rights. Otherwise, tenants may risk forfeiting their ability to contest the deductions at all, leaving them without any recourse or remedies. Knowledge is power and understanding Pennsylvania landlord tenant law can protect you from getting taken advantage of.

Can a tenant apply the security deposit to last month’s rent? 

As a tenant in the state of Pennsylvania, it is important to become familiar with the landlord-tenant law when making certain decisions. Specifically, when it comes to using a security deposit to cover last month’s rent, Pennsylvania landlord tenant law states that the security deposit can only be used when a tenant properly terminates their rental agreement and provides written notification to their landlord. Otherwise, any other use of the security deposit without proper notification may leave the tenant at risk of facing legal action from their landlord. It is therefore wise for tenants to try and stay informed on all regulations regarding pennsylvania landlord tenant law as well as consult a lawyer if need be.

When is the security deposit due back to the renter by the landlord?

For Pennsylvania landlords, tenant deposits must be returned within 30 days of the end of the tenant’s occupancy. The state has enacted the Landlord and Tenant Act to protect all parties, meaning that ensuring deposits are quickly returned is in both landlord and tenant’s best interest. According to the Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Law, security deposits should be placed into an operating account in a bank or financial institution when received. Not complying with this law or returning deposits in a timely manner may result in costly consequences. Ultimately, if you are a landlord or tenant in Pennsylvania it’s important to prioritize understanding tenant deposit regulation as stipulated by The Landlord and Tenant Act.

My tenant has moved out, what do I do with their security deposit?

Within 30 days of tenancy termination and acceptance by the landlord, the landlord must return the security deposit or provide the tenant with a list of damages, the cost of the repairs and a final account of rent still owing. The landlord must refund any balance of the deposit owing plus interest minus any monies owed for damages to the apartment and for rent. No interest has to be paid to the tenant during the first two years. Beginning in the third year and thereafter, interest has to be paid to the tenant. The Pennsylvania landlord tenant law does not set a rate of interest. Additionally, the landlord may retain an amount equal to one percent per year of the total escrow deposit as an administrative expense of the fund.

What is a common problem where security deposits are concerned?

At times landlords may try claiming deductions for items that are often characterized by the court as normal wear and tear. This situation may be prevented by realistically evaluating each deduction, providing proof of damage as well as including repair receipts and pictures. It is also important that the landlord return the security deposit or a portion thereof along with an explanation of the damages and what was deducted from the security deposit within 30 days, as provided for by Pennsylvania landlord tenant law.

How can I end a lease agreement?

There are no restrictions or limits placed on the notice required to end a lease, other than what is specified within the lease agreement. However, a lease cannot be terminated for discriminatory or retaliatory purposes.

Can I require my tenants to obtain renter’s insurance?

Landlords may require tenants to obtain renter’s liability insurance, and can make the failure to do so a breach of the lease agreement.

My tenant has not paid rent; how much notice do I have to give a tenant in order to evict them?

If the landlord wishes to file an eviction, a 10 day notice to vacate must either be given to the tenant or posted on the door of the premises. The notice provided in the Landlord-Tenant Act may be for a lesser time or waived by the tenant if the lease so provides.

How long does a tenant have to vacate the property if they are served with an eviction notice? 

If you’ve received an eviction notice in Pennsylvania, you have to act fast. Under the Pennsylvania landlord tenant law, tenants have 10 days after being served with an eviction notice to vacate the property. Though the exact timeline and procedures vary from county to county, finding out quickly how much time you have to vacate is essential for protecting your rights as a tenant. So if you’re served with such a notice, make sure to take action right away or seek legal assistance so you can address any potential issues and keep your finances protected.

When is rent legally due in Pennsylvania? 

If you’re a tenant in Pennsylvania, understanding the state’s landlord tenant law is key. In Pennsylvania, rent is legally due on the date specified by the lease or rental agreement. If no date is specified, rent will usually be due on the first of the month. As with most states, it’s best to pay your rent on time to avoid any potential legal action from a landlord. Late fees may also vary depending on your local municipality and rental agreement. Learning about Pennsylvania landlord tenant law can help you attain a better understanding of when and how much rent will be due as well as other important information such as late fees associated with paying rent past the due date.

How much notice must a landlord give before increasing the rent? 

Pennsylvania landlords must provide tenants with at least 30 days’ written notice before increasing the rent. According to the Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Law, this advance notification must include details such as the amount of the increase and when it will take effect. Although a landlord can notify their tenant verbally, it is best practice to provide written proof if you receive any changes in your forthcoming rent payments. That way, both sides are protected to ensure that their contractual agreement is honored.

Can a landlord enter the tenant’s property without their permission? 

In Pennsylvania, it is against the law for a landlord to enter a tenant’s property without their permission. However, landlords can enter if they need to take care of repairs and/or inspect, but they must provide prior written notice 24 – 48 hours beforehand in most cases. There may be exceptions to this rule, depending on the Pennsylvania landlord tenant law of the specific county or municipality. It is important to stay up to date on your local regulations so you know when it is and isn’t appropriate for a landlord to enter your property.

If a tenant damages the property, is the landlord allowed to deduct the cost from their security deposit?

In many states, including Pennsylvania, a landlord is allowed to deduct costs from the security deposit if the damage is caused by a tenant. However, it’s not as simple as this – Pennsylvania landlord tenant law mandates that the amount matched with the damage should be reasonable and only cover the costs of repair and replacement. Additionally, a detailed itemized list including all repairs along with an explanation regarding how it relates to their security deposit must be sent to the tenant within thirty days before any changes can be put into action. Landlords need to ensure they are following all Pennsylvania landlord tenant laws when it comes to withholding security deposits otherwise they could be caught up in complicated legal issues.

How long does the eviction process take?

As with any legal matter, exact timing is almost impossible as it depends on many factors. Overall, barring any complications, the eviction process, from start to finish, takes approximately 4-5 weeks from the time the Complaint is filed in the districts in Pennsylvania and approximate 6-8 weeks in Philadelphia.

How do I tell if my tenant has “skipped” out of the apartment?

Often times it’s best to look for the obvious, such as removal of personal goods, whether or not the tenant has come back to the premises at any time during a one week period, and simply no food in the refrigerator. It’s extremely important to document all of the “proof” gathered in order to determine abandonment. When in doubt, if payment of rent has not been made, the landlord may always file for eviction.

What can I do if my tenant files for bankruptcy?

The procedures a landlord should take will be determined by bankruptcy court laws. Since the bankruptcy rules were changed in 2005, a bankruptcy will not stay an eviction if a judgment has already been obtained. United States Bankruptcy Code, section 362(b)(22). However, if a judgment has not yet been obtained, a Landlord should proceed with Relief from the Automatic Stay once the tenant fails to pay for post-petition rents. This is a complicated procedure and warrants at least a consult with an attorney.

Do I have the right to enforce no smoking in my rental property?

Under Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Law, a landlord may establish a “No Smoking” policy by providing so in the lease.

Do I have to give the tenant notice before I enter the rental property?

Additionally, in an emergency situation, it is permissible to enter the unit to prevent or control said emergency.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein is intended as a general discussion of legal issues concerning landlord tenant law. Information provided is not legal advice or a legal opinion, and it is recommended that the reader seek independent counsel for any specific issue.

Legal questions can be asked in our state law forum, and additional Pennsylvania landlord resources can be found here!

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