The rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in Pennsylvania are governed by the Landlord Tenant Act. This is part of Pennsylvania's civil code. The act pertains to residential tenants only. There are many processes and procedures defined in the act, but five of the most important are the fair housing laws, warranty of habitability guidelines, rent withholding procedures, eviction process, and handling of security deposits.
The Fair Housing Laws in the Pennsylvania Landlord and Tenant Act are implemented from the Federal Fair Housing Laws. These laws prohibit a landlord taking discriminatory action against a tenant for reasons of race, color, religion, family status, disability, nation of origin, or sex. These rules apply for tenants seeking a new residence and for landlords attempting to evict tenants based on one of these reasons.
Warranty of Habitability
A warranty of habitability is the landlord's obligation to keep the residence habitable. A tenant has the option of sending a written notice to her landlord, informing him of repairs that are required to make the house a safe living environment. If the landlord ignores the situation, the tenant makes repairs and then withholds part of the rent for the amount of the repair. A tenant delivers a receipt for the cost of the repairs. Keeping copies of the receipts is a good idea in case the landlord attempts to evict a tenant based on rent withholding.
The Landlord and Tenant Act requires that the residence be returned to its original state before the tenant moves out, but it does not require any specific notice period. Most of the time, a landlord establishes notice periods in the lease itself, if any are required.
There are specific requirements to ensure a tenant gets the security deposit returned. The first step is to provide the landlord or leasing office with a valid forwarding address before move-out. The landlord goes over the apartment, makes a note of any damages, and the cost to repair the damages. An invoice for those damages is sent with the remaining security deposit.
The eviction process has many legal requirements that must be followed for it to be a legal eviction. A landlord is prohibited from evicting a tenant himself. He must get a court order and have it executed by the sheriff for it to be legal. Other aspects of eviction that are detailed in the Landlord and Tenant Act are the length of notice needed to leave before eviction proceedings are filed, legal reasons for eviction, and recourse for the tenant in the case of an illegal eviction.