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Five Fundamental Rights That Tenants Have

Landlord tenant law in Pennsylvania governs the relationship between a renter and the landlord who is providing rental space. There are landlord tenant laws applicable to all lease agreements, including residential and commercial leases. 

If you are either a landlord or a tenant, it is imperative you understand rights and obligations under the law. Landlords who fail to follow the rules could find themselves facing significant legal consequences.  Tenants also need to be assertive and know how the law protects them so they can take action if a landlord doesn't live up to obligations. An experienced Conshohocken attorney who handles cases arising under PA's landlord tenant law can provide invaluable assistance to both landlords and renters who need help when a problem arises.

Five Fundamental Rights Tenants Have

The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951 establishes many of the rules applicable to the landlord/tenant relationship in the state of Pennsylvania. Tenants have many rights under this Act, but five of the most fundamentally important rights of tenants include the following:

  • Tenants have the right to find housing free from discrimination. Landlords are not allowed to discriminate against a tenant because of race, religion, gender, national origin, color, or other protected status. Landlords are generally also not allowed to refuse to rent to families with children, with the exception of senior communities.
  • Tenants have the right to a return of their security deposit. Pennsylvania law allows landlords to charge a security deposit equal to a maximum of two months rent for the first year of renting. When you have paid a security deposit, it must be returned within 30 days of the time that you leave the apartment. Landlords have to deposit any security deposit valued at more than $100 in a banking institution regulated by he federal or state government. Tenants must be provided with the name and address of the banking institution where the security deposit is being kept. The landlord may deduct for the reasonable cost of repairs from your security deposit, but must not deduct for normal wear-and-tear on the apartment.
  • Tenants have the right to notice before eviction. PA law requires that landlords provide a pay or quit notice before beginning the eviction process. The notice, when provided to tenants who are behind on rent, must give the tenant 10 days to move or pay. Only after this 10 day period can landlords file for eviction. Landlords can wait longer than 10 days, but cannot move to file for eviction before 10 days have passed since rent was due. If the tenant is being evicted for a violation of lease terms, the landlord must provide notice and give the defendant 15 days to move out before filing for eviction if the lease is for one year or less. If the lease is for more than a year, the tenant must be provided with notice and 30 days to move before the landlord files for eviction. A landlord cannot simply lock you out of an apartment or force you to leave without going through the formal eviction process – to do so would be illegal.
  • Tenants have the right to a habitable apartment and can withhold rent for failure to make repairs. If a landlord fails to make repairs to a tenant's rental unit, the tenant may withhold the rent until important repairs are made. Tenants also can have the repairs made themselves and deduct the amount they spent on the repairs from a rental payment. Tenants have to give landlords notice and the opportunity to correct the conditions before making the repairs on their own or withholding rent. The repairs also must be legitimately necessary, such as repairing a broken heater. An attorney can provide assistance in determining if it is permissible to withhold rent under landlord tenant law.
  • Tenants have a right of quiet enjoyment. Tenants have the right to peacefully possess the leased property. Landlords cannot interfere with a tenant's possession of the leased unit or with use of the unit. This means landlords must give notice before entering (the specific rules for notice should be in the lease) and should enter only for legitimate purposes. Lease terms and conditions must also be enforced and landlords should make sure tenants are not engaging in abusive behavior which affects others.

If you need help because your landlord is violating these rights or is otherwise treating you unfairly, consulting with an attorney can be your best option.

How a Conshohocken Landlord Tenant Lawyer Can Help

A Conshohocken landlord tenant lawyer at Curley & Rothman, LLC can represent both renters and landlords in disputes throughout Montgomery County. Give us a call at 610-834-8819 or contact us today to schedule your consultation and learn more about how we can help with your case.

Real EstateScott Rothman