You were in your early 20s, just out of college, new job, new city and new apartment. And the apartment seemed nice enough at first.
But then you began to find problems. Doors that would stick. A showerhead with no water pressure. Peeling paint. You called your landlord, but he was slow to respond.
It’s situations like these where it helps to know something about landlord tenant law. Doylestown, like many Pennsylvania boroughs, is filled with rental properties, all of them subject to the same law.
In this blog post, we’ll look at the rights and responsibilities landlords and tenants have under the law.
What does Pennsylvania require landlords to do?
Under state law, landlords need to do certain things to follow landlord tenant laws, including:
1. Adhere to anti-discrimination laws
Landlords in Pennsylvania can reject potential renters for several reasons: a checkered credit history, bad references from past landlords or a record of late rent payments.
However, landlords are not allowed to reject tenants based on their race, religion, national origin, gender, familial status or physical or mental disability.
2. Create a written lease or rental agreement
A lease or rental agreement sets all the rules you and your tenants must follow, making clear things like the extent of the rental period and how much they’ll need to pay in rent.
These agreements are a good place for landlords to make the legally required disclosures they must make under state law, such as details on security deposits, the tenants right to be present during inspections and the presence of any health hazards like mold or radon.
3. Comply with rent and security deposit rules
State law says landlords need to give tenants 10 days to pay their rent – or move out – before beginning eviction proceedings. Once tenants have moved out and returned their keys, landlords have within 30 days to return their security deposits.
4. Make sure the housing is habitable
Pennsylvania requires landlords to keep rental properties livable. There’s even something called the “warranty of implied habitability” in the state landlord tenant law. Doylestown landlords who keep their properties livable will not only have an easier time attracting tenants, they’ll ensure those tenants pay their rent on time.
5. Follow proper eviction procedures
States have very specific rules for how and when a landlord can terminate a renter’s tenancy. Failing to follow these rules can draw out the eviction process.
It’s also illegal to retaliate against a tenant who complains about unsafe living conditions, either through raising their rent or trying to kick them out. Landlords should keep a solid paper trail showing how they’ve made repairs to counter any false claims against them.
What does the law require Pennsylvania tenants to do?
Under state law, renters have the right to safe, comfortable living conditions. This means working water, sewer and electrical systems, proper heating, etc.
According to landlord tenant law, Doylestown renters – indeed, all renters – have the right to withhold rent when a landlord fails to make important repairs, such as fixing a broken heater.
The law says tenants can either hold back on the rent until the repairs are made, or “repair and deduct,” which means they can hire someone to make those repairs – or do the repairs themselves – and then deduct that cost from the rent.
But tenants also have responsibilities, including:
- Keeping the property in good condition and telling the landlord when repairs are needed
- Giving the landlord access to the property to make those repairs
- Paying rent on time
- Telling the landlord who is living on the property
- Complying with any special terms in the lease
Every landlord hopes they can stay on good terms with their tenants, and vice versa. But disputes can happen, and whether you’re a renter having trouble with a landlord or a property owner dealing with a difficult tenant, sometimes these disputes end up in court.
That’s why it helps to have a qualified real estate attorney like the ones at Benner and Wild by your side.
Our lawyers have a great deal of expertise in litigating lease disputes and other aspects of landlord tenant law, having represented clients on both sides of the issue. Contact us today to make sure your lease agreement is up to date.