This is a summary of Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant laws that apply to residential (non-commercial) rentals. These references were compiled from the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes and various online sources to serve as a reference and for people wanting to learn about Pennsylvania landlord-tenant laws, Pennsylvania eviction laws, and Pennsylvania renters’ rights.
However, this guide is not comprehensive and PayRent does not warrant the accuracy of this information. Statutes can change any time the state legislature passes a new law. Additionally, counties and cities may have different regulations. Given its limitations, this guide is not an adequate substitute for legal advice from a knowledgeable lawyer. If you are dealing with a landlord-tenant issue, you seek guidance from a qualified attorney. If you need help finding an attorney, we’ve included a list of attorney referral services in this guide.
Rules and Regulations Governing Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant Laws
- 68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. §§ 250.101 – 250.602 – Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951 (pdf)
- Act of Jul. 5, 2012, P.L. 1091, No. 129 – Amendment to Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951
- Title 68 – Real and Personal Property
Pennsylvania Lease Terms Provisions
- What is the maximum allowable security deposit?
The security deposit cannot exceed two month’s rent during the first year of tenancy, and then one month’s rent in all subsequent years. (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.511a)
- Are security deposits required to earn interest?
Yes. After the second anniversary of making a security deposit, the tenant is entitled to interest earned. Starting in the 3rd year of the lease, the landlord is entitled to 1% of the security deposit annually for administrative expenses. (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.511b)
- Do landlords need to store security deposits in a separate bank account?
Yes. The deposit must be into an escrow account at a federally insured financial institution. The landlord, however, can avoid using an escrow account by posting a bond. (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.511b)
- Are non-refundable fees, such as pet fees, prohibited?
No. There is no Pennsylvania law forbidding non-refundable fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge.
- How long do landlords have to return security deposits?
30 days. (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.512)
- Can landlords withhold security deposits?
Yes. Landlords can use the deposit to cover accrued rent and to repair any damages to the property caused by tenants’ failures to comply with their duties. (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.512)
- Are landlords required to itemize damages and fees deducted from security deposits?
Yes. An itemized list, detailing the amount withheld and the reasons for withholding, must be sent to the tenant within 30 days, along with any unused security deposit funds. (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.512)
- Do landlords have to issue receipts upon receiving security deposits?
No. There is no Pennsylvania law requiring landlords to issue receipts for security deposits.
- Are there any specific requirements for record-keeping for deposit withholdings?
Yes. The landlord must provide the tenant with the name and address of the financial institution where the security deposit is held. (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.511b)
- What happens when a landlord does not return a security deposit within the required timeframe?
A landlord must pay double the amount of any difference between the damages to the property and the amount of the security deposit to the tenant. The landlord also maintains the burden of proving actual damages. (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.512c)
- Is there a cap on how much landlords can charge for rent? (rent control)
No. There are no rent control laws in Pennsylvania.
- When is rent due?
Rent is due at the time and place agreed upon by the landlord and tenant.
- Does rent need to be paid using a certain method of payment?
No. There is no Pennsylvania law requiring a certain payment method for rent.
- Can landlords charge late fees when rent is late?
Yes. There is no Pennsylvania law forbidding late fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge.
- Do landlords have to allow for a grace period for paying rent before charging late fees?
No. There is no Pennsylvania law requiring a grace period before assessing late fees.
- Can landlords charge application fees?
Yes. There is no Pennsylvania law forbidding application fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge.
- Can landlords charge returned check fees?
Yes. Landlords can charge a late fee up to the greater of the actual bank charge for the returned check or $50.
Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant Relations
- Are landlords required to provide tenants with notice of rent increases between lease terms?
No. There is no Pennsylvania law requiring landlords to provide tenants with notice of rent increases between lease terms. However, landlords cannot raise your rent in the middle of your lease.
- Are landlords required to provide tenants with notice of pesticide use on the property?
No. There is no Pennsylvania law requiring landlords to provide tenants with notice of pesticide use on the rental property.
- What notice is required to terminate a fixed-end lease?
30 days notice is required to terminate a fixed-end lease of a year or more. (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.501b)
- What notice is required to terminate a week-to-week periodic tenancy?
15 days notice. (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.501b)
- What notice is required to terminate a month-to-month periodic tenancy?
15 days notice. (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.501b)
- Is notice of the date and time of the move out inspection required?
There is no statute in Pennsylvania law covering this issue.
- When can landlords enter the rental premises with notice?
There is no statute in Pennsylvania governing landlords’ rights to entry, allowing reasons for entry and notice required to be governed by the terms of the lease.
- What notice must a landlord give a tenant before entering the rental unit?
There is no Pennsylvania law requiring landlords to give tenants notice of entry.
- When can landlords enter the rental premises without providing notice to their tenants?
There is no statute governing the entry of landlords to tenant’s premises, but courts have assumed a right to enter in an emergency.
- Landlords have a duty of reasonable care for safety in the use of common areas, including stairways, passages, roadways, and other common facilities. (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.502-A)
Tenant’s Duties (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.503-A)
- Tenants must comply with all obligations imposed upon tenants by building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.
- Tenants must not allow anyone to wilfully destroy, deface, damage, or remove any part of the premises.
- Tenants must not permit anyone on the premises to disturb the peace of other tenants or neighbors.
Required Landlord Disclosures
- Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards.
Pennsylvania Renters’ Rights
- What are Pennsylvania renters’ rights if landlords breach their duties? (See Landlord’s Duties)
If a landlord fails to provide a habitable dwelling, the tenant can have a local government agency certify the dwelling is inhabitable. (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.206)
- Are tenants allowed to withhold rent for needed repairs or other breaches of their landlords’ duties?
Yes. If a landlord complains to a government agency that a dwelling is inhabitable, and the agency certifies the premises is no longer fit for habitation, the tenant can pay rent into an escrow account rather than to the landlord. (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.206)
- What are the protections for tenants against retaliation from their landlords for exercising their Pennsylvania renter’s rights?
Pennsylvania law prohibits landlords from terminating a lease or failing to renew a lease if the tenant becomes a member of a tenant’s union or similar organization. (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.205)
Pennsylvania Eviction Laws
- What are the reasons that landlords can evict tenants under Pennsylvania eviction laws?
- What notice do Pennsylvania eviction laws require that landlords provide tenants before starting the eviction process?
- For evictions based on non-payment of rent, the landlord must provide 10 days’ written notice to the tenant before termination. (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.501b)
- For evictions based on holdover tenancy and violation of lease terms, landlords must provide 15 days’ written notice if the tenant has lived in the unit for less than 1 year. For tenants who have lived in the rental unit for 1 year or longer, landlords must provide 30 days’ written notice.( 68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.501b)
- For evictions based on illegal drug activity, the landlord must give 10 days’ notice before starting the eviction process. (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.501b)
- Do Pennsylvania eviction laws allow landlords to use “self-help eviction” methods, such as locking a tenant out of the rental unit or shutting off the utilities?
There is no statute restricting self-help evictions in Pennsylvania, so these methods are allowed. Individual jurisdictions may review methods differently or with greater skepticism.
- Are landlords permitted to recover damages from an evicted tenant?
Yes. A landlord’s expenses stemming from the eviction of a tenant are recoverable from the tenant. (68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 250.504)
COVID-19 Changes to Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant Laws
- The CDC has passed a national eviction ban through December 31, 2020, that prohibits landlords from evicting tenants who meet the following criteria for nonpayment:
- Have used their best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent.
- Expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return).
- Are unable to pay their full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of income or employment, or extraordinary medical bills.
- If evicted, will have no other housing options.
- The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act requires landlords to provide a 30-day notice to tenants before eviction. However, the CARES Act only applies to properties that are supported by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), or the United States Treasury (Low Income Housing Tax Credit), and properties with federally-backed mortgages, such as FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.
- The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Attorney General
- Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission
- Pennsylvania Insurance Department
- Pennsylvania Bureau of Consumer Protection
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Pennsylvania
- Philadelphia Legal Assistance
- Community Legal Services of Philadelphia
- Find a Legal Aid Provider
Attorney Referral Services
- Philadelphia Lawyer Referral Service
- Pennsylvania State Bar Association
- Pennsylvania Lawyer Referral Service
Realtor and Landlord-Tenant Associations
- Pennsylvania Association of Realtors
- Map of Local Associations of Realtors
- The Pennsylvania Association of Housing & Redevelopment Agencies
- Allegheny County Housing Authority
- Bethlehem Housing Authority
- Housing Authority of the County of Butler
- Housing Authority of the County of Chester
- Housing Authority of Cumberland County
- Housing Authority of the City of Erie
- Housing Authority of the City of Franklin
- Lackawanna County Housing Authority
- Lancaster City Housing Authority
- Lawrence County Housing Authority
- Lebanon County Housing Authority
- Mercer County Housing Authority
- Montgomery County Housing Authority
- Housing Authority of Northumberland County
- Philadelphia Housing Authority
- Housing Authority City of Pittsburgh
- Housing Authority of The City of Pottsville
- Union County Housing Authority
- Washington County Housing Authority
- Westmoreland County Housing Authority