About Pennsylvania Tenant Rights

By Michael Martin
A landlord needs to be mindful of tenant rights.
apartment lease sign image by Aaron Kohr from Fotolia.com

The Implied Warranty of Habitability and the Landlord and Tenant Act govern tenant's rights in Pennsylvania. The rights set out in these laws protect the tenant so the living arrangements become secure and free from undue landlord constraints.

Implied Warranty of Habitability

The landlord has the duty to maintain the premises in a reasonable and safe condition, free from standard housing violations. Examples may include a working stove and doors that close and lock properly. If the tenant places the landlord on notice of repairs, the landlord has a reasonable amount of time to fix them. After that time has passed, the tenant must inform the landlord in writing that all or part of the rent will be withheld if the repairs go unaddressed. The tenant may proceed to make any repairs, save the receipts and deduct the expenses from the next rent payment. Under this law, which applies to both written and verbal leases, the tenant has a legal defense if a legal action for non-payment of rent ensues.

Fair Housing

Pennsylvania mandates fair housing for tenants, which includes freedom from landlord discrimination based on a protected class. Pennsylvania's protected classes include race, national origin, color, gender, marital status, disability, religion and age (over 40 years old).

Tenant's Association

A tenant's association is a collective body of tenants who meet on a periodic basis with the mission to improve tenant living conditions and welfare. Sometimes, the association formulates a constitution in order to govern itself. Pennsylvania law mandates that tenants may join a tenant's association without facing landlord retaliation in the form of a lease termination or non-renewal.

Guests, Goods and Services

The tenant enjoys the right to invite guests of his choosing as long as the tenant adheres to the lease provisions. In addition, guests may stay at the premises overnight for a reasonable time. The tenant also enjoys the right to purchase goods or services without landlord limitations. Provisions in the lease contrary to these rights cannot be waived.

Security Deposits

Landlords typically require a security deposit from the tenant. Security deposits are held in escrow and are used for the purpose of non-payment of rent or damages to the rental unit. Security deposits are limited to the amount of two months of rent during the first lease year. During subsequent years, the security deposit may only equal the amount of one month of rent. If the premises do not have any damages, the landlord must return the security deposit within 30 days from the date the tenant vacates the premises or the tenant can seek legal recourse. Security deposits over $100 deposited into an interest-bearing account entitle the tenant to receive the balance of interest after the landlord receives costs for administrative expenses.

About the Author

Michael Martin began writing professionally in 2008. He has more than 10 years of experience in the insurance industry and primarily writes about legal issues. Martin holds a Juris Doctor from Albany Law School and is licensed to practice law in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.