Let’s give it to Pennsylvania, which is the first state to list the state website on their license plates!
From chocolate to brotherly love, PA has something for everyone. Pennsylvania landlord tenant laws are widely considered balanced, however some of the larger cities such as Philadelphia have their own tighter criteria and it is important to check your cities laws and not just the state rules. However, below is a summary of the Quaker state’s landlord-tenant regulations.
At a Glance:
Late Fees: While there are no specific written laws limiting what can be charged for a late fee, they can not be so high as to be considered punitive.
Security Deposit: During the first year of the tenancy an amount equal to 2 months can be required, however, only 1 month for all years thereafter.
Returned Payment Fee Limit: No more than a $50 fee may be charged unless the bank charges more.
Notice to Enter: Pennsylvania has no stated law regarding notice to enter the rental unit.
Late Fee/Returned Check Fee:
The amount of a late fee is not limited by the Pennsylvania landlord tenant statutes. However, if they are excessive, they can come under the Pennsylvania Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act. It would be up to a judge. But in order to make sure you stay out of “hot water”, be sure that you keep those fees reasonably related to the costs.
In Pennsylvania, returned payment fees may not exceed $50. However, if your bank or financial institution charge more, you may also charge to your renter that fee.
Pennsylvania security deposits can be a bit complex. Although, an amount equal but no more than two months’ rent can be collected; it may only be held for damages or default for the first year of the tenancy. After that, only one month may be deposited.
Your renter is entitled to interest after the 2nd year when you received the deposit. The landlord may keep as administrative expenses, 1% per annum with the balance paid to the renter on the 3rd anniversary of the beginning of the tenancy.
Security deposits in excess of $100 must be held in a separate escrow account. The landlord must notify the renters of the name and location of the financial institution in writing.
Returning the deposit: The landlord MUST provide the renter either the entire security deposit; a partial security deposit with an accounting statement of each and every deduction or no deposit with a complete accounting of all of the deductions. This must be sent to the renter’s last known address and before the end of 30 days.
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In Pennsylvania, the landlord is responsible for making sure that the rental property is safe, sanitary and fit for human habitation. This includes things like safe drinking water, heat when it is cold, working sewer, safe and operational electrical system, functionable smoke detector, non-infestation of pests, safe and working lock on the entrance door, and overall safe home structure. This does not mean that the landlord must pay for these services, but the systems must be in order.
Right of Entry:
There are no statutes in Pennsylvania that dictate when an advanced written or verbal notice is needed to enter the rental unit. Reasonable notice, however should be used accept under emergency circumstances or if the landlord has reasonable knowledge of abandonment of the rental unit.
Notice to End Lease:
For tenancies except those for mobile homes, notice is needed as follows, unless otherwise written into a lease:
- Leases for under on year or for an unstipulated time -15 days’ notice is needed to end the tenancy.
- Leases that are for more than one year -30 days’ notice is needed to end the tenancy.
- Leases on a month to month basis – 30 days’ notice is needed to end the tenancy.
In Pennsylvania for violations of the lease including non-payment of rent, a notice must be served to the tenant before filing for an eviction. The notice period is ten days. However, if the lease includes a “waiver of notice”, the tenant is automatically placed on notice of an eviction and the landlord may file in court without a written notice to the tenant.
FYI: The SparkRental Pennsylvania Lease Agreement contains this Waiver of Notice.
Read more about the eviction process for landlords, so you’ll know how to lay the groundwork for enforcing your lease agreement!
Questions? Ask a Pennsylvania Attorney!
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