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

tenant rights and Pennsylvania Landlord-tenant laws

Pennsylvania is home to about 12.8 million people. Over 30 percent of these individuals are believed to live in rental property. This is great news for landlords in the state who lease their rental property!

The landlord-tenant relationship is guided by the statewide landlord-tenant law. These state laws indicate the responsibilities and rights of a Pennsylvania landlord and resident. There are several legal aspects a Pennsylvania landlord needs to know. 

Pennsylvania landlord-tenant laws are pretty landlord-friendly. For one, Pennsylvania landlord-tenant laws don’t have any laws regarding a landlord’s right to enter the property, meaning, as a Pennsylvania landlord, you can enter your tenants’ rented property 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 property price they want for the leased premises. 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 rental agreement, a landlord must inform them of certain disclosures. The most common disclosures landlords must make to tenants during a rental agreement 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 in the rental unit. 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 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 deposits bank information. A landlord must provide details about the bank and accounts that bear your tenant’s security deposit during their lease.
Pennsylvania Landlord-tenant laws and landlord tenant act

Pennsylvania Tenant Rights & Responsibilities  

Under Pennsylvania law, tenants have a legal right to:

  • Live in a property that meet the state and local habitability standards.
  • Enjoy their rental unit 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 based on their protected characteristics.
  • Stay in their rent until the landlord has followed the proper eviction process as outlined in the law.
  • Refusal to pay rent if the property is deemed uninhabitable. 
  • Receive written notice when changes to the lease agreement are made.
  • Receive certain disclosures before signing the lease document.

Tenants in Pennsylvania are also responsible for:

  • Providing their 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 lease terms.
  • Informing the landlord when maintenance issues arise.
  • Taking care of the property 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 property or making repairs.
  • Conduct tenant screening for prospective tenants in Pennsylvania. 
  • 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 Pennsylvania tenants are looking to leave town for an extended period.
  • 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 property in Pennsylvania.
notifying pennsylvania landlord tenant act and renting law

As a landlord, you are responsible for the following in Pennsylvania:

  • 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.
  • 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

Tenant Evictions

The law states that you, as a landlord, have the responsibility to follow the legal eviction process to evict your tenant for gross violation of the lease or rental agreement. If a landlord fails to follow this eviction process they could face legal consequences. Start by sending the correct Pennsylvania eviction notice to correspond with the lease agreement violation.

Common rental agreement term violations in Pennsylvania 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 notification. You can begin their eviction immediately by filing a Summons and Complaint.
  • LeaseViolations. Examples include subletting the apartment without the Pennsylvania landlord’s permission, consistent noise complaints, and making illegal alterations to the property. In these cases, a landlord may issue their tenant with a 15-day Notice to Quit for violating the rental agreement. If the terms of the notice are not met, as the landlord, you’re allowed to move forward with the legal eviction process.
Pennsylvania landlord-tenant law landlord and tenant act

Security Deposit Rules

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 security deposit.

Rent Increases

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.

Housing Discrimination

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 in Pennsylvania include:

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

Landlord Entry

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.

Pennsylvania small claims court


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. It would help if you also remained informed of squatting laws, eviction laws, security deposit laws, and other rental laws in Pennsylvania.

If you need help keeping track of Pennsylvania state law or managing your tenant and investment properties contact DeSantis Property Management today! Our services can help with tenant screening, rental property marketing, maintenance and repairs, and more. Whether you have a single-family property 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.