Pennsylvania Rental Laws – an Overview of Landlord-Tenant Rights in Pittsburgh

DeSantis PM Landlord-tenant laws

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 landlords and tenants is guided by the statewide landlord-tenant law. 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’ premises without serving a prior notice.

Furthermore, the state of Pennsylvania doesn’t currently have state rent control. 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, you 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 it at the time due to the health hazard it was found to present.
  • Disclosure of mold. You must notify tenants of any known mold issues. The disclosure must identify the possible health threat and should be given to potential tenants before they sign the lease.
  • Disclosure on utilities. Have you impliedly or explicitly agreed in the lease 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. You must provide details about the bank and accounts that bear your tenants’ security deposits.
Pittsburgh, PA Landlord-tenant laws

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 premises until the landlord has followed the proper eviction process as outlined in the law.
  • Receive 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 landlords with proper 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 property to ensure it’s clean and sanitary at all times.

Landlord Rights & Responsibilities

The following are the basic rights landlords 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 unit or making repairs.
  • Evict 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 rental premises.
notifying Pennsylvania tenants

As a Pennsylvania landlord you are responsible for:

  • Maintaining habitable standards within the rental unit. 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 property maintenance.
  • Following the state’s legal process when evicting tenants.

An Overview of the Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant Law

Tenant Evictions

As a landlord, you have a right to evict your tenant for gross violation of the lease or rental agreement. Common lease violations include:

  • Nonpayment of rent. If your tenant misses a rent payment, you can issue them with a 10-Day Notice to Quit. The notice gives the tenant 10 days to either pay rent or move out. If they don’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 permission, consistent noise complaints, and making illegal alterations to the unit. You may issue them with a 15-Day Notice to Quit. If the terms are not met, as the landlord, you’re allowed to move forward with the legal eviction process.
Pennsylvania landlord-tenant law

Security Deposits

Landlords must also follow certain rules when it comes to the handling of their tenants’ security deposits. For example, you must store the tenant’s deposit in an escrow account.

You’ll have 30 days to return the deposit to the tenant after they move out. Failure to do so may result in your having to pay up to twice the amount withheld.

Rent Increases

As previously states, 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.

Housing Discrimination

Pennsylvania tenants are protected from discrimination by the Fair Housing Act. The act makes it illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants based on protected characteristics.

The protected characteristics include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Ancestry
  • National origin
  • Religious creed
  • Disability
  • Relationship status

Landlord Entry

In Pennsylvania, there are no laws regarding landlord right to entry. That being said, to avoid harassment suits, most landlords have some kind of entry notification included in their lease.

Small Claims Court

Small claims courts in Pennsylvania will heart disputes involving rent issues and eviction cases up to $12,000.

Pennsylvania small claims court

Summary:

If you own a rental property 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.

If you need help 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 property management company. A local qualified attorney may also be helpful.