Rights, Regulations, and Landlord Tenant Laws - Pennsylvania 
Pennsylvania landlords and tenants face a labyrinth of intricate local and state rental laws that shape their rights, responsibilities, and the dynamics of their landlord-tenant relationships. Comprehending and adhering to these regulations can pose a significant challenge, even for seasoned rental property owners and tenants.
To assist in navigating this challenge, we've compiled this complete guide, addressing crucial rental topics such as lease agreements, eviction procedures, tenant screening, and more. Whether you're a landlord or a tenant, this guide will furnish you with a comprehensive understanding of Pennsylvania's laws, as outlined in the Pennsylvania Landlord and Tenant Act.
Landlords will discover how to safeguard their rental properties and cultivate positive relationships with tenants, while tenants will gain the knowledge required to assert their fundamental rights.
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Pennsylvania landlord tenant law fast facts
- Is a rental license required to be a residential landlord? No, not statewide
- Are there any security deposit requirements? Yes
- Is there rent control? No
- Are there limits on late fees? No
- Are there rent payment grace period laws? No
- Are there notice of entry laws? Yes
Pennsylvania landlord responsibilities and rights
Pennsylvania residential landlords are provided rights that allow them to manage their rental properties protected from legal issues. Their top rights include:
- Charging and collecting rent payments when due
- Collecting security deposits to cover unexpected costs
- Pursuing a formal eviction process if the tenant breaches the lease agreement
Landlords in Pennsylvania also have a set of obligations to uphold that ensure a safe and smooth tenancy for renters. Their key duties are as follows:
- Providing renters with a safe and habitable rental property free of housing discrimination
- Making repairs within a “reasonable time” after receiving oral or written notice from tenants
- Returning the tenant’s security deposit within 30 days after the lease ends
Pennsylvania tenant responsibilities and rights
Same as landlords, Pennsylvania tenants are granted fundamental rights that protect their safety and well-being while residing in a rental unit. Their main rights include:
- Living in a habitable rental property that meets local and state health and safety codes
- Having repairs made in a reasonable time after providing the landlord with notice
- Taking legal action like suing if the landlord commits a lease violation
Renters in Pennsylvania have their own set of obligations to uphold while renting. Generally, these responsibilities ensure the rental property is maintained and the landlord goes financially unharmed. In Pennsylvania, tenants must:
- Pay rent when due
- Keep the unit in clean and habitable condition
- Maintain fixtures clean and in working order
- Not disturb other renters or neighbors
- Dispose of all waste in a proper manner
- Not purposefully destroy or damage any part of the property
Pennsylvania landlord tenant laws through the rental cycle
Pennsylvania tenant screening and rental application laws
Pennsylvania state law has very few statutes governing the tenant screening and rental application process. For example, the state doesn’t limit how much a landlord can charge for a rental application fee and does not require the fee to be refundable. Additionally, landlords can ask any questions on the rental application as long as they do not lead to housing discrimination as outlined by the Federal Fair Housing Act.
Furthermore, the state permits landlords to run any background check or tenant screening report, but only after obtaining the prospective tenant’s written consent.
Pennsylvania rental agreement and lease termination laws
In Pennsylvania, rental agreements are required for leases over three years. Thus, lease agreements of less than three years can be either oral or written. However, it’s always recommended to document leases in writing as it grants responsibilities to both the landlord and tenant.
Pennsylvania requires landlords to include the following information in a lease: the landlord’s name, address, and phone number; rent amount and due date, length of the lease, and description of the rental unit. Learn what other information you should include in your rental agreement today!
To terminate a lease, a landlord must provide a 30-day notice for year-to-year leases and a 15-day notice for month-to-month leases.
Tenants in Pennsylvania also have the option to terminate a lease agreement early for the following legal reasons:
- Active military duty
- Early termination clause
- Landlord harassment
- Uninhabitable unit
Pennsylvania security deposit laws
Pennsylvania rental owners can collect a security deposit at the start of the lease period to cover unforeseen costs. Landlords are limited to collecting the equivalent of 2 month's rent for the first year of tenancy. Following the first year, landlords can only collect up to one month’s rent.
Regarding the security deposit, Pennsylvania landlords must:
- Hold security deposits in an escrow account or secure a bond.
- Pay interest on security deposits after the second year of the lease and share it with tenants
- Return the tenant’s security deposit within 30 days after the lease ends
Landlords are allowed to make deductions from the security deposit for reasons including rental damage exceeding normal wear and tear, costs due to the breach of the lease, and unpaid rent.
If the landlord fails to comply with the notice period or wrongfully withholds funds, tenants can sue for twice the amount wrongfully withheld.
Pennsylvania rent laws
Pennsylvania does not have rent control laws and prohibits its cities and states from creating their own laws. This allows landlords to charge any amount of rent and increase rent as often as they wish, as long as it’s not during the lease period (unless the lease agreement allows for it).
Pennsylvania state law does not specify how much notice a landlord must give a tenant before raising rent. However, the landlord and tenant can come to an agreement on a minimum notice period for a rent increase in the lease.
If Pennsylvania renters fail to pay rent on time, landlords are not required to provide a grace period before charging a late fee. Additionally, there are no limits on late fees but they must be reasonable.
Pennsylvania repair and maintenance laws
Pennsylvania landlords must make repairs within a “reasonable amount” of time after receiving oral or written notice from tenants.
If the landlord fails to make repairs within a timely manner, renters can take several legal actions: sue for costs, file a court order to force the landlord to make repairs, or cancel the rental agreement altogether. They can also use the “repair and deduct” remedy in which they make minor repairs and deduct the cost from the rent. Tenants can also choose to withhold rent as long as they place it in a court-approved escrow account.
Pennsylvania notice of entry laws
Pennsylvania does not have any statutes governing a landlord’s right to entry. Thus, landlords are legally allowed to enter units at will for reasonable purposes related to the rental like maintenance and showings. Generally, landlords and tenants can come to an agreement on a minimum notice period in the lease agreement. Notice is not required for emergencies.
Pennsylvania eviction laws
Pennsylvania landlords are allowed to evict tenants for specific legal reasons. Each reason requires a specific notice period before the eviction process can begin. Here are the reasons for eviction and associated notice periods in Pennsylvania:
- Nonpayment of rent: If the tenant fails to pay rent on time, the landlord may issue a 10-day notice to quit. If the landlord still does not pay and remains on the property, the landlord may then file a summons and complaint with the court.
- Lease violation: If the tenant commits a lease violation, the landlord may issue a 15-day notice to quit for tenants of less than a year and a 30-day notice to quit for tenants of more than a year. If terms are not met, the landlord may move forward with the eviction.
- Illegal acts: If the tenant is found to be committing illegal activity on the rental premises, landlords may issue a 10-day notice to quit.
- No lease/end of lease: If the tenant stays past the end of the tenancy, the landlord can issue a notice to quit. The notice period depends on the length and type of tenancy. Leases of less than one year require a 15-day notice to quit, leases of a year or more require a 30-day notice to quit, and at-will tenancies require a 15-day notice to quit.
Additional Pennsylvania landlord tenant laws
Aside from covering rental matters such as repairs and rent payments, Pennsylvania law also encompasses issues like landlord retaliation, discrimination, and more. Explore a selection of these regulations below.
Both federal and state laws protect Pennsylvania renters from housing discrimination. Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, landlords are prohibited from discriminating against renters based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. Pennsylvania state law further protects renters from discrimination based on characteristics including age and pregnancy status.
If a landlord violates discrimination laws, by refusing to rent to a tenant or falsely claiming a rental unit is unavailable, tenants can seek legal help and file a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission.
Like in many other US states, it’s illegal for Pennsylvania landlords to retaliate against tenants for taking protected actions. Raised rent, reduced services, and threatened evictions may all be considered forms of retaliation if they occur within a six-month period after a tenant exercises their rights.
Pennsylvania only has one mandatory disclosure–a lead-based paint disclosure–which applies to landlords who own rental properties built before 1978. In this disclosure, landlords must disclose information about lead-based paint concentrations.
Summing up: Understanding Pennsylvania landlord tenant law
Pennsylvania's rental laws provide a well-defined framework outlining the rights and obligations of both landlords and tenants. While the law’s primary objective is to foster fairness in the rental process, they also work to promote harmonious landlord-tenant interactions.
Through a comprehensive grasp and adherence to these statutes, rental property owners can protect their real estate investments and cultivate healthy relationships with their tenants. Likewise, tenants can assert their legal rights with confidence when the need arises. After reading this guide, landlords and renters should continue educating themselves on Pennsylvania’s ever-evolving rental laws, as the rental landscape is always changing.
Landlords, do you need help with rent collection or lease agreements? Tenants, are you looking for a credit boost or renter insurance? Whatever you need, Azibo’s got you covered. Learn more about our free rental software today!
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. This content may not constitute the most up-to-date legal information. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information herein without first seeking the advice of a legal professional.