If you are considering becoming a landlord in Philadelphia, you probably have concerns about your rights. In recent decades, states have added more protections for tenants. When you place your financial future on the line to become a landlord, it is important to protect your rights the best you can. After all, your rental properties are essential for you to build your personal financial security. In these uncertain economic times, it is more important than ever for landlords to understand their rights. 

Contact Our Experienced Philadelphia Landlord Right Attorneys

Understanding your landlord rights is the first step in enforcing your rights and succeeding as a landlord in Philadelphia. If you have any questions regarding your rights as a landlord, Abramson & Denenberg, P.C., is here to help. Contact our New York City landlord rights law firm as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation. 

  1. Landlords Have a Right to Background Checks

The Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Act of 1951 governs the rights of landlords and tenants in Pennsylvania. This law gives landlords the right to screen potential tenants. Pennsylvania landlord-tenant laws have some provisions that are unique to the state of Pennsylvania. Understanding the reasons why you can reject a potential tenant legally can be extremely helpful.

Pennsylvania does not put a limit on how much you can charge for a lease application fee. Additionally, the fee is non-refundable. You can keep the fee even if you do not move into the property. You will need to receive signed consent from your lease application. Be sure to include a signed consent form with every rent application. The consent form needs to state that your application is okay with running a background check. 

You can screen applicants based on their answers, but you cannot violate state or federal discrimination laws. For example, you can reject potential applicants based on the following reasons:

  • The applicant smokes
  • The applicant has pets or his or her pets do not meet the restrictions
  • The applicant does not have sufficient income (usually three times a month more than the monthly rent)
  • The applicant had prior evictions
  • The applicant has a judgment or lien against them
  • The applicant has had a prior bankruptcy

The Fair Housing Act prohibits any type of discrimination in housing due to an applicant’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or familial status. The Fair Housing Act covers most types of housing. 

  1. Landlords Have a Right to Security Deposits

Landlords in Pennsylvania have a right to charge up to two months of rent as a security deposit for the first year of the lease. For example, if the monthly rent is $2,000, the landlord can require a security deposit of $4,000 or less. The application fee is separate from the security deposit. For every additional year that the tenant rents the property to the tenants, the landlord cannot require more than one month’s rent. In the example above, the landlord could only charge an additional security deposit of $2,000 for the second year. 

You have a right to deduct the cost of damages to the premises from your tenant’s security deposit. Additionally, as a landlord, you have the right to withhold the security deposit for unpaid rent as well as breach of your rental agreement. If you do decide to keep any of the security deposit, you must give your tenant a written list of the relevant damages as well as her remaining balance. You will need to provide these written damages within 30 days. 

  1. Landlords Have a Right to Inspect Their Property Under Certain Circumstances 

Landlords do have the right to enter their rental units under certain circumstances. Landlords can enter the unit to show the unit to prospective tenants, complete repairs or maintenance, or when there is an emergency. You will need to provide your tenant with reasonable notice before entering the dwelling. In an emergency, landlords may enter when there is an emergency, but only if giving the tenant notice would cause additional damage to their possessions, or danger to the tenants. 

  1. Landlords Have a Right to Evict Tenants Under Certain Circumstances

As a landlord, you can evict your tenant for not paying their rent. You will need to provide your tenant with a written eviction notice. You will need to give the tenant 10 days of notice if you are evicting them for nonpayment of rent. If you are evicting them for breach of the lease, or when the lease ends, you must give them at least 15 days of notice. 

After the notice period is over, you can go to a Magisterial District Judge and file a Landlord/Tenant Complaint. The office will schedule a hearing in one to two weeks from the date you filed your complaint. Next, you may ask to take possession of your property, money for any unpaid rent, as well as damages to the property. 

  1. Landlords Have a Right to Abandoned Personal Property

In 2012, the Pennsylvania government added a new section to the Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Law called “Disposition of Abandoned Personal Property.” This provision states that tenants are responsible for moving all of their property from the premises when they leave. As a landlord, you will need to wait ten days after your tenant moves out to remove the tenant’s personal property. 

When your tenant fails to contact you about the property that he or she left, you will be able to dispose of the property at the end of the 10-day period, at your discretion. However, if the tenant does contact you, you can remove the property to a location of your choice and in 30 days, you can dispose of it.

Contact Our Landlord Rights Lawyers Today

If you have any questions about your rights as a Philadelphia landlord, we can help. Contact our New York law firm today to schedule your initial consultation. Whether you need assistance with an eviction or another issue, our legal team can help.

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