Pennsylvania is home to about 12.8 million people. Over 30 percent of these individuals are believed to live in rental homes. This is great news for landlords in the state!
The relationship between a landlord and tenant is guided by the statewide landlord-tenant law. These state laws indicate the responsibilities and rights of a landlord and tenant.
Pennsylvania landlord-tenant law is pretty landlord-friendly. For one, Pennsylvania doesn’t have any laws in regards to landlord right to entry, meaning, as a landlord, you can enter your tenants’ rented space without serving a prior notice.
Furthermore, the state of Pennsylvania landlord-tenant laws don’t currently include state rent control laws. As such, landlords can charge whatever rental price they want. This, however, can change in the future.
The following is a basic overview of Pennsylvania landlord-tenant law.
Required Landlord Disclosures
Before the tenant can sign the lease, a landlord must inform them of certain disclosures. The most common disclosures are as follows:
- Disclosure about lead-based paint. This is specifically meant for landlords who rent out properties built prior to 1978. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission outlawed lead-based paint at the time due to the health hazard it was found to present.
- Disclosure of mold. A landlord must notify renters of any known mold issues. The disclosure must identify the possible health threat and should be given to a potential tenant before they sign the lease.
- Disclosure on utilities. Have you impliedly or explicitly agreed in the lease terms to pay for some utility bills? If you have, then your tenant can hold you responsible for any disconnections or interruptions that arise.
- Disclosure on security deposit bank information. A landlord must provide details about the bank and accounts that bear your tenants’ security deposits.
Pennsylvania Tenant Rights & Responsibilities
In Pennsylvania, tenants have a right to:
- Live in homes that meet the state and local habitability standards.
- Enjoy their rented spaces in peace and quiet, free from unnecessary disruptions.
- Have their repair requests acted upon within a reasonable time frame.
- Not to be discriminated against on the basis of their protected characteristics.
- Stay in their rented until the landlord has followed the proper eviction process as outlined in the law.
- Receive written notice when changes to the lease agreement are made.
- Receive certain disclosures prior to signing the lease document.
Tenants are also responsible for:
- Providing their Pennsylvania landlords with proper written notice when looking to vacate their rented premises.
- Keeping noise levels down.
- Abiding by the terms of the lease agreement.
- Informing the landlord when maintenance issues arise.
- Taking care of the rental unit to ensure it’s clean and sanitary at all times.
Landlord Rights & Responsibilities
The following are the basic rights property owners have per Pennsylvania’s landlord-tenant laws. As a landlord, you have the right to:
- Enter rented premises to perform important responsibilities, such as inspecting the rental or making repairs.
- Carry out a legal eviction proccess on a tenant for violating the lease agreement.
- Receive proper notice when a tenant is looking to leave town for an extended period of time.
- Receive proper notice when a tenant wishes to move out of their rented premises.
- Be notified when a tenant wishes to make any changes to their rented unit.
As a Pennsylvania landlord you are responsible for:
- Maintaining habitable standards within the rental property. This means providing a space that’s safe, healthy, and free from things that could cause serious harm.
- Making requested or needed repairs within a reasonable period of time.
- Keeping their rented premises clean and free from health hazards.
- Keeping track of financials, taxes, utilities, and maintenance.
- Following the state’s legal eviction process when evicting a tenant.
An Overview of the Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant Law
The Pennsylvania landlord-tenant laws state that you, as a landlord, have the right to follow the legal eviction process to evict your tenant for gross violation of the written lease or rental agreement.
Common lease violations include:
- Nonpayment of rent. If your tenant misses a rent payment, you, as the landlord, can issue them with a 10-Day Notice to Quit. The notice would provide tenants 10 days to either pay rent or move out. If the tenant doesn’t, you can move to the District Judges Office and file a Summons and Complaint.
- Illegal Acts. Here, you don’t have to serve the tenant with any notice. You can begin their eviction immediately by filing a Summons and Complaint.
- Lease Violations. Examples include subletting the unit without the Pennsylvania landlords permission, consistent noise complaints, and making illegal alterations to the unit. In these cases, a landlord may issue their tenant with a 15-Day Notice to Quit. If the terms of the notice are not met, as the landlord, you’re allowed to move forward with the legal eviction process.
Landlords must also follow certain rules and laws when handling their tenants’ security deposits. For example, you must store the tenant’s security deposit in an escrow account.
You’ll have 30 days to return the security deposit to the tenant after they move out. Failure to return the tenant’s security deposit may result in you having to pay up to twice the amount withheld deposit.
As previously stated, landlords can decide what to charge for rent. That’s because the state of Pennsylvania doesn’t preempt or enforce rent control policies.
Similarly, as a landlord, you aren’t limited by how much you can raise the rent. Furthermore, you don’t have to provide justification or notice for rent hikes.
A Pennsylvania tenant is protected from discrimination by the Fair Housing Act. The act makes it illegal for a landlord to discriminate against a tenant based on protected characteristics.
The protected characteristics under the Fair Housing Act include:
- National origin
- Religious creed
- Relationship status
In Pennsylvania, there are no laws regarding a landlord’s right to entry. That being said, to avoid harassment suits, most landlords have some kind of entry notification included in their written lease.
Small Claims Court
Small claims courts in Pennsylvania will hear disputes involving rent issues and eviction cases up to $12,000.
If you own a real estate investment in Pittsburgh, PA, you must ensure that you are up-to-date on landlord-tenant laws. As a landlord, you have a set of rights and responsibilities to uphold and so do your tenants. You should also remain informed of squatting laws, rent increase policies, and other rental legislation in the state.
If you need help keeping track of Pennsylvania state law or managing your investment properties contact DeSantis Property Management today!
Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional. For expert help, kindly consider hiring an experienced management company. A local qualified attorney may also be helpful.