The Pennsylvania Tenant Landlord Act

By Tiffany Garden
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA image by Khylira from Fotolia.com

The Pennsylvania Landlord and Tenant Act is a part of the civil code, and provides definitions of the landlord-tenant relationship, rental agreement terms, and the rights and responsibilities of both landlord and tenant. Pennsylvania's Landlord and Tenant Act also provides methods of legal recourse in the event of a dispute.

Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

A tenant is granted a number of rights, as well as several responsibilities in the Landlord and Tenant Act of Pennsylvania. An important tenant right is called the right of quiet enjoyment. This part of the act prohibits the landlord from harassing a tenant, entering the property without advance notice, or shut off utilities. Another tenant right is an implied warranty of habitability. The rental unit must be in a habitable state when the tenant signs the lease agreement, and the tenant has the responsibility of telling the landlord if a problem in the unit renders it uninhabitable.

Landlord Rights and Responbilities

A Pennsylvania landlord has responsibilities towards a tenant, and rights to allow the landlord to deal with a problem tenant. A landlord is expected to perform major repairs, either to keep the rental unit habitable or due to a repair clause in the lease agreement. A landlord has the right to enter a Pennsylvania rental unit with advanced notice. The landlord does need a valid reason to enter the domicile, either for repairs, inspection, or showing the apartment. Emergency repairs are exempt from notice; the landlord or repairman is able to enter the household to quickly fix the problem before it causes a major problem. The Pennsylvania Landlord and Tenant Act also regulates the eviction process. A landlord has the right to initiate eviction proceedings against a tenant, but has to follow the regulations exactly.

Security Deposit

A landlord can charge up to two month's rent for a security deposit; the amount cannot be higher. A security deposit is used for only three things: repairing damage, cleaning the home, or recovering back rent after a tenant has left the property. The landlord must send an itemized deduction form explaining the repairs and cleaning done with the security deposit. Any left over money from the security deposit has to be sent within 30 days.

Personal Property

Article III and Article IV of the Landlord and Tenant Act deals with personal property remaining inside the tenant property after the tenant has ended the lease, or been evicted. Article III establishes the landlord's right to recover back rent by distress. The landlord sells the items at a sheriff's sale or similar event. Article IV covers prohibited personal property. Property worth under $300 is completely exempt from distress. The Act also has a list of personal property not able to be sold. A few examples of exempt items includes: clothes, Bibles, sewing machines, trade tools, military accouterments, rental property, or livestock.

Eviction

The Pennsylvania Landlord and Tenant Act contains the process of legal eviction. Pennsylvania has restrictions on the reasons a landlord can evict a tenant. The biggest eviction reason, unpaid rent, makes up for a large percentage of eviction cases. The other eviction reasons are rental agreement violations and holdover tenancies. Rental agreement violations are a more complicated cause than unpaid rent evictions. A landlord has to prove the tenant is violating a clause in the lease, using documentation or witnesses to prove his cause. Holdover tenancies occur when a tenant does not leave after receiving written notice that his lease is terminated at the end of the lease term.

Pennsylvania requires all residential eviction procedures to start with a written notice stating the eviction cause, the move-out date, and any way to gain tenancy back. The length of the notice period varies between eviction reasons. Unpaid rent, lease violations, and ending lease terms less than a year require 15 days. Lease terms a year or longer are given 30 days to vacate. After the notice period ends, the landlord is free to file the eviction case in district court.