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 who lease their property!
The landlord-tenant relationship is guided by the statewide landlord-tenant law. These state laws indicate the responsibilities and rights of a landlord and resident. There are several legal aspects a landlord needs to know.
This states’s landlord-tenant law is pretty landlord-friendly. For one, Pennsylvania doesn’t have any laws in regard to a landlord’s right to entry, meaning, as a landlord, you can enter your tenants’ rented space without serving a prior notice.
Furthermore, Pennsylvania landlord-tenant laws don’t currently include state rent control laws. As such, it’s legal for landlords to 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 Pennsylvania resident can sign the lease or rental agreement, a landlord must inform them of certain disclosures. The most common disclosures landlords must make to tenants during a lease under the state landlord-tenant laws 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 rental agreement 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 of security deposit bank information. A landlord must provide details about the bank and accounts that bear your tenants’ security deposits during their lease.
Pennsylvania Tenant Rights & Responsibilities
Under Pennsylvania law, tenants have a legal 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. And withhold rent or repair and deduct the cost if they aren’t done in a reasonable period.
- 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.
- Withhold rent if the rental unit is deemed uninhabitable.
- Receive written notice when changes to the lease agreement are made.
- Receive certain disclosures prior to signing the lease document.
Tenants in Pennsylvania are also responsible for:
- Providing their Pennsylvania landlords with proper written notice when looking to vacate their rented premises.
- Paying rent on time for the duration of the tenancy.
- Paying the required security deposit.
- Keeping noise levels down.
- Abiding by the terms of the Pennsylvania 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 Responsibilities & Rights
The following are the basic rights rental 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 unit or making repairs.
- Conduct tenant screening for prospective tenants.
- Charge a security deposit.
- Rent without housing discrimination.
- Use the security deposit to cover certain costs.
- Carry out a legal eviction process on a tenant for violating the lease agreement.
- Receive proper notice when tenants are 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 tenants wish to make any changes to their rented unit in Pennsylvania.
As a landlord you are responsible for:
- Maintaining habitable standards within the rental property. This means providing a space for tenants that’s safe, healthy, and free from things that could cause serious harm.
- Making requested or needed property repairs within a reasonable period of time.
- Keeping the 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 Pennsylvania renter.
An Overview of the Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant Law
The 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. If a landlord fails to follow this process they could face legal consequences. Start by sending the correct Pennsylvania eviction notice to correspond with the lease violation.
Common rental agreement term violations include:
- Nonpayment of rent. If your Pennsylvania tenant fails to make their rent payments, you, as the landlord, can issue them with a 10-Day Notice to Quit. The notice would provide tenants 10 days to either pay the unpaid rent or move out. If the tenant doesn’t pay rent, landlords 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.
- LeaseViolations. Examples include subletting the apartment 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 in Pennsylvania must also follow certain rules and laws when handling their tenants’ security deposits. For example, landlords must store the tenant’s security deposit in an escrow account.
They’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 landlords having to pay up to twice the amount withheld deposit.
As previously stated, Pennsylvania 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 renter is protected from discrimination by the Fair Housing Act. This federal law makes it illegal for a landlord to discriminate against a tenant or prospective tenant based on protected characteristics.
The protected characteristics under the Fair Housing Act include:
- National origin
- Religious creed
- Relationship status
Pennsylvania law doesn’t include specific provisions 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
A small claims court 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 rights and laws for landlords and tenants. As a landlord, you have a set of rights and responsibilities to uphold and so do your Pennsylvania tenants throughout the tenancy. You should also remain informed of squatting laws, security deposit laws, rent increase policies, and other rental laws in the state.
If you need help keeping track of Pennsylvania state law or managing your renters and investment properties contact DeSantis Property Management today! Our services can help with tenant screening, property marketing, maintenance and repairs, and more. Whether you have a single-family home or an apartment, we can help. Contact us today to learn more!
Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional. For expert help with Pennsylvania landlord-tenant law, kindly contact an experienced management company. A qualified Pennsylvania attorney may also be helpful.