Demystifying Pennsylvania Landlord/Tenant Laws

Renting a property in Pennsylvania — whether as a tenant or landlord — involves various legal rights and responsibilities.

Renting a property in Pennsylvania — whether as a tenant or landlord — involves various legal rights and responsibilities. You should have a fair idea of the state's landlord/tenant laws in order to maintain a smooth and amicable rental relationship.

Lease Agreements and Rental Terms

Pennsylvania law recognizes both written and oral leases (68 P.S. § 250.101). Lease agreements can be for a specified term, often one year, or on a month-to-month basis. Written leases should clearly specify the terms and conditions (68 P.S. § 250.501). Choose Very Law for lease agreement law assistance and knowledgeable representation in Pittsburgh. 

Security Deposits

Landlords can charge a security deposit, typically equal to one month's rent for residential properties. The security deposit must be returned to the tenant, minus lawful deductions, within 30 days after the termination of the lease (68 P.S. § 250.511a).

Rent and Rent Increases

Rent is generally due as specified in the lease agreement, often on the first day of the month (68 P.S. § 250.501). Landlords must provide at least 30 days written notice before increasing rent for month-to-month tenants (68 P.S. § 250.501).

Repairs and Maintenance

Landlords must maintain the property in a habitable condition, ensuring essential services like heat, water, and electricity are provided (68 P.S. § 250.202). Tenants are responsible for keeping the property clean and avoiding damage beyond normal wear and tear.

Entry to the Rental Property

Landlords must provide at least 24 hours written notice before entering a rental unit for non-emergency reasons, except in cases of abandonment (68 P.S. § 250.501).


Landlords can evict tenants for non-payment of rent, lease violations, or other legitimate reasons, following proper legal procedures (68 P.S. § 250.501). Evictions typically begin with a notice to quit or notice to vacate, followed by a court eviction process (68 P.S. § 250.501).

Tenant Protections

  • Anti-Discrimination: Pennsylvania tenants are protected against housing discrimination based on factors such as race, color, religion, sex, familial status, disability, or national origin under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
  • Retaliation: Landlords are prohibited from retaliating against tenants for exercising their legal rights, such as complaining about unsafe conditions (68 P.S. § 250.205).

Landlord Protections

  • Lease Enforcement: Landlords have the right to enforce lease terms, collect rent, and seek legal remedies for violations (68 P.S. § 250.204).
  • Security Deposits: Landlords can use security deposits for unpaid rent, damages beyond normal wear and tear, and other specified charges (68 P.S. § 250.511a).

Small Claims Court

Small claims court can be used to resolve disputes over security deposits, unpaid rent, or property damage, with jurisdiction limits of up to $12,000 (42 Pa.C.S.A. § 1123).

Local Regulations

Local municipalities may have additional regulations and ordinances that apply to rental properties. Tenants and landlords should be aware of and comply with these local laws.

Tenant Rights in Pennsylvania

Fair Housing Laws 

Tenants in Pennsylvania are protected by federal and state fair housing laws that prohibit discrimination in housing based on factors such as race, color, religion, sex, familial status, disability, or national origin. These laws ensure equal access to housing opportunities and promote a diverse and inclusive housing market.

Privacy Rights 

Tenants have the right to privacy in their rental units. Landlords must provide at least 24 hours' notice before entering a rental unit for non-emergency reasons, except in cases of abandonment. This notice requirement helps protect tenants' privacy and peace of mind.

Right to a Habitable Property 

Pennsylvania law mandates that landlords provide tenants with a habitable property that meets basic health and safety standards. This includes providing essential services like heat, water, and electricity and maintaining the property in a safe and livable condition.

Renters' Insurance 

While not legally required, renters' insurance is a valuable option for tenants to protect their personal belongings in case of theft, damage, or disasters. It provides added security and financial protection for tenants in unexpected situations.

Landlord Obligations and Responsibilities in Pennsylvania

Maintaining the Rental Property 

Landlords in Pennsylvania are responsible for maintaining the rental property in a habitable condition. This includes making necessary repairs and ensuring that essential services are provided. Failure to maintain the property can lead to legal consequences.

Handling Security Deposits 

Landlords are required to handle security deposits in accordance with state law. They must provide an itemized list of deductions and return the deposit, minus lawful deductions, within 30 days after the termination of the lease.

Proper Notice for Lease Termination 

Landlords must provide proper notice to terminate leases. This notice varies depending on the lease type and circumstances but generally includes a notice to quit or a notice to vacate. Proper notice ensures that tenants have adequate time to find alternative housing arrangements.

Eviction Procedures 

When eviction becomes necessary due to non-payment of rent or other valid reasons, landlords must follow specific legal procedures, including providing tenants with proper notice and initiating eviction proceedings through the court system. Evictions must adhere to the due process of law.

Local Ordinances in Philadelphia for Landlord/Tenant

Here are some key aspects covered by local ordinances in Philadelphia:

  • Lead Paint Regulations: Philadelphia has specific regulations regarding lead paint in rental properties. Landlords are required to provide tenants with information about lead paint hazards and follow certain procedures when renting properties built before 1978, which may contain lead-based paint.
  • Rental License and Inspection: Landlords in Philadelphia must obtain a rental license and have their properties inspected for compliance with housing and safety codes. The City of Philadelphia's Licenses and Inspections department oversees these requirements.
  • Tenant Relocation Assistance: In certain cases, such as when a property is being converted or demolished, Philadelphia ordinances may require landlords to provide relocation assistance or compensation to tenants.
  • Source of Income Discrimination: Philadelphia has specific ordinances prohibiting source of income discrimination, which means landlords cannot refuse to rent to tenants based on their source of income, including government housing vouchers.

Are you a landlord or tenant in need of legal support in Pennsylvania? Trust Very Law to provide you with dependable guidance and representation. Our legal team will work hard to ensure your landlord/tenant dispute is resolved to your satisfaction. Call Very Law today at 412-430-0131 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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