Generally, Pennsylvania is considered landlord-friendly. There are a few state-sanctioned policies, like rental fee limits and entry notifications. Also, eviction laws tend to be attractive to landlords.
In Pennsylvania, a rental agreement gets established once there is an exchange of rent. From then on, both parties signed the lease to obtain certain rights and responsibilities.
The following is a basic overview of the Pennsylvania landlord-tenant law.
Required Landlord Disclosures in Pennsylvania
Landlords in Pennsylvania must make two important disclosures to their tenants before lease signing.
The first disclosure you’ll be required to make is on lead-based paint. This is a federal law that requires landlords renting out properties built before 1978 to disclose known information on lead-based paint.
The other disclosure is on utility. Have you implied or expressly agreed to pay for gas, water, or electric service to your tenant’s dwelling? If you have, then you may be held liable if the utility company cuts off the services to the tenant’s dwelling.
Tenant Rights & Responsibilities in Pennsylvania
Apart from having a right to live in habitable premises, Pennsylvania tenants also have a right to:
- Live in peace and quiet
- Be notified when the landlord is looking to enter their rented premises
- Be notified when the landlord is looking to make changes to the terms of the lease agreement
- Be provided with all amenities promised in the lease agreement
- Be evicted in a just and legal manner
- Prompt repairs when requested
The following is a list of responsibilities that come with renting a property in Pennsylvania:
- Comply with the basic standards required under habitability codes affecting their health and safety
- Keep the premises, as well as all fixtures, clean and safe
- Dispose of waste, such as garbage in a clean and safe manner
- Use all amenities and facilities reasonably
- Not carelessly or negligently destroy property
- Don’t disturb the peaceful enjoyment of neighbors
- Leave the rented premises in the same condition they found them, not including normal wear and tear
Landlord Rights & Responsibilities in Pennsylvania
- As a landlord, the following are some of the rights you’re entitled to in Pennsylvania. The right to:
- Choose the kind of prospective tenants you want to rent to. The selection criteria must, however, be in line with the Fair Housing Laws.
- Evict a tenant for violating a term of the lease agreement. Common violations include nonpayment of rent and excessive property damage.
- Ask for a security deposit as part of the move-in costs.
- Make changes to the terms of the lease agreement. In a lease agreement, though, you’ll need to either wait until it has expired or seek your tenant’s approval.
- Enter rented premises to carry out important duties, such as property inspection, provided that you follow all landlord entry laws.
The following are some responsibilities that landlords have in the state:
- Maintain the rented unit in a livable condition and make requested repairs in a reasonable amount of time.
- Treat every tenant with respect and fairness per the Fair Housing Act.
- Return a tenant’s security deposit within the stipulated time.
- Notify the tenant before entering their rented premises.
Overview of Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant Law
1. Tenant Eviction
You have a right to evict your Pennsylvania tenant for violation of the lease agreement. Common reasons for lease violation include nonpayment of rent, failing to abide by the lease rules, and property damage that exceeds normal wear and tear.
The state has a legal process that you must follow when carrying out the eviction. At no point should you take matters into your own hands by, for example, locking the tenant out of their rented premises, removing their personal belongings, or shutting off their utilities.
2. Security Deposits
As part of Pennsylvania landlord-tenant law, there are certain rules that landlords must abide by when it comes to a tenant’s security deposit. If you fail to follow those rules, your tenant may have a right to the full refund of their deposit plus additional damages.
The following are some things to keep in mind regarding security deposits:
- Security deposit limit – How much to ask as a security deposit depends on the length of the tenancy. For example, for a one-year lease, the maximum you can collect as a deposit is two months’ rent.
- Storing a security deposit – You can store your tenant’s security deposit in either of two ways, in a guaranteed bond or an escrow account.
- Returning a security deposit – You have 30 days to return your tenant’s security deposit once they move out.
3. Lease Termination
Normally, when a tenant signs a lease, they become contractually obligated to adhere to the terms for the entire time it’ll run. There are exceptions to this rule, however. In Pennsylvania a tenant can legally break their lease for the following reasons:
- They experienced landlord harassment
- The unit is uninhabitable
- They are leaving for active military duty
- There’s an early termination clause in the agreement
In these instances, all they will have to do is provide proper notice and proof where necessary.
4. Rent Increases
Currently, landlords in the state are free to charge whatever rent amount they wish. Note, however, that if you overcharge on rent you’ll likely experience longer periods of vacancy and more tenant turnover.
5. Housing Discrimination
Landlords must treat their tenants respectfully and fairly regardless of their characteristics. Some of the protected characteristics in Pennsylvania include race, national origin, sex, age, religion, color, disability, and familial status.
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to stay informed on all these laws and policies when renting out your property. If you would like help managing your rentals contact the experts at Keyrenter Property Management BuxMont today!
Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for expert legal advice. Also, laws may change and this post may no longer be up-to-date at the time you read it. For expert advice, kindly get in touch with a licensed attorney or contact a property management firm.