State Landlord-Tenant Laws For Pennsylvania



  • Not required but highly recommended.
  • No maximum.
  • If more than $100 it must be held in a state or federal institution.
  • Landlords must pay interest on the deposit annually.
  • Must be returned within 30 days of the tenant moving out.


  • No statute.


  • Tenants have a right to privacy as covered in the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment.
  • Landlords should give reasonable notice (at least 24 hours) before entry and only enter during reasonable hours (9am to 5pm).


  • None.


  • Rental agreements are required for leases over 3 years.
  • For leases less than 3 years written rental agreements are not required, but are recommended.


  • No statute.


  • No statute.


  • No statute.


1. Pennsylvania landlord responsibilities

Landlord rights and responsibilities

Landlords in Pennsylvania have the responsibility to return a renter’s security deposit within 30 days of the tenant moving out.

Pennsylvania Statutes Title 68 P.S. Real and Personal Property § 250.512. Recovery of improperly held escrow funds

Landlord responsibilities for repairs

Landlords must make repairs within 30 days of being notified. If the landlord fails to do so, it is within a tenant’s rights to withhold the cost of the repair from his or her next rent payment. If the premises are unfit for human habitation, tenants may withhold rent in its entirety and they have the right to abandon the rental unit.

City Rent Withholding Act

Tenants’ rights in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania tenant law gives renters 10 days from leaving a property to arrange to claim their personal items. Landlords must send tenants a written notice that their personal belongings remain on the property. Landlords must hold items for 30 days if a tenant responds and shows intent to collect the items. If a tenant fails to respond to the notice within 10 days, landlords may dispose of belongings.

Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951 — Disposition of Abandoned Personal Property

What a landlord cannot do in Pennsylvania

Renters’ rights in Pennsylvania mean landlords cannot request a security deposit of more than two months’ rent. If tenants rent for subsequent years, the security deposit must be no more than one months’ rent. However, there are no rules around late fees or grace periods, meaning landlords may set their own terms.

Pennsylvania Statutes Title 68 P.S. Real and Personal Property § 250.511a. Escrow funds limited


2. Pennsylvania security deposit laws

Collection and repayment of security deposits in Pennsylvania is covered by the Pennsylvania Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951, §§ 250.511a to 250.512.

What is a security deposit?

A security deposit for rent is a returnable sum that covers potential losses and rental property damage for the landlord. A security deposit in Pennsylvania may be worth no more than two months’ rent for the first year and one month’s rent for the second through fourth years. Landlords may not charge an additional security deposit from five years onward.

Receipts for security deposits

Landlords do not need to provide receipts for security deposits. However, they do need to provide tenants with the name and address of the institution holding the security deposit in writing. If the security deposit is more than $100, landlords must hold the amount in a state or federal institution.

Interest on security deposits

If the tenant renews the lease after two years, security deposits over $100 must be in an interest-bearing escrow account. The tenant will receive the interest annually, on the date of the lease. Landlords may keep 1% of the security deposit as an administrative fee.

Returning the deposit

Landlords must return security deposits to tenants within 30 days of the expiration of the lease.

Deductions from a security deposit

Landlords may make a deduction on a security deposit once the lease ends or is canceled. This may only cover:

  • Damage to the rental property
  • Unpaid rent bills
  • Breaches to the rent agreement

Landlords must provide an itemized list of damages that they used funds from the security deposit to repair.

Can a Landlord Collect Prepaid Rent in Pennsylvania?

A landlord is only allowed to collect up to 2 month’s rent for escrow purposes, 1 month’s rent during any subsequent years. (68 P.S. §§250.511a.)

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3. Pennsylvania rental agreement laws

Landlord Tenant Act of 1951

Residential lease agreements

In Pennsylvania, a rental agreement is only a requirement for lease of more than three years. The agreement must be in writing.

For leases of less than three years, the agreement may be oral or in writing.

Notice period for lease agreement in Pennsylvania

Landlords must provide a written notice of at least 15 days in advance for tenancies of less than one year and 30 days in advance for tenancies of more than one year.

Lease renewals

There are no lease renewal laws in Pennsylvania, but landlords are recommended to include in their rental agreements:

  • Definite terms of tenancy
  • Notice required to terminate the lease
  • Renewal options

Clauses on a Pennsylvania lease agreement

A lease agreement in Pennsylvania must include:

  • The landlord’s name, address, contact phone number
  • The rent amount
  • The date rent is due
  • The length of the lease
  • A description of the rental property

Free lease agreement template

Get free landlord documents including lease templates here.

Late fees and grace periods in Pennsylvania

  • Rent Grace Period: No Statute
  • Late Fees: No Statute

Can a tenant withhold rent for failure to provide essential services (water, heat, etc.)? 

Yes, when an government agency or department certifies that a dwelling is uninhabitable, the tenant can elect to deposit rent into an escrow account rather than pay the landlord directly. (68 P.S. §§ 250.206)

Can a Tenant Repair and Deduct Rent? 

No Statute.



4. Pennsylvania rent increase laws

Pennsylvania is not one of the states with rent control laws. However, local municipalities are able to set ordinances to control rent increases.

How often can a landlord raise rent in Pennsylvania?

The lack of rent control laws means landlords in Pennsylvania may raise rent whenever they like.

How much can a landlord increase rent?

Landlords may raise rent by as much as they want, provided it is in accordance with the tenant’s lease.

How must a landlord notify a tenant of a rent increase in Pennsylvania?

There is no statute regarding how landlords have to notify tenants of a rent increase. However, it is best practice to give a tenant ample warning, at least 30 days, and to put any rent increases into a formal written notice for future reference.

Related: How to Increase the Rent: Free Rent Increase Letter


5. Pennsylvania eviction laws & notices

Landlord Tenant Act of 1951

Although eviction laws in Pennsylvania vary according to the county, the process is much the same throughout the state.

The eviction process in Pennsylvania

  • The landlord sends the tenant a written notice
  • The landlord completes the forms to file a complaint against the tenant
  • The tenant is served with eviction documents
  • Both the landlord and the tenant attend a court hearing
  • A Magisterial District Judge delivers judgment
  • If the landlord wins case, he or she regains possession of the rental property

Notice to vacate laws in Pennsylvania

When an eviction is not due to a failure to pay rent, landlords must typically provide tenants with 30 days’ notice if the tenant has a lease agreement for one year and 15 days’ notice if the lease agreement is for less than one year.

If the eviction is for nonpayment of rent, landlords must typically give tenants 10 days’ notice.

A written lease agreement may waive or change notice to quit terms.

How much notice do landlords have to give before terminating a tenancy in Pennsylvania?

  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – A year or less or for an indeterminate time: 15 days (68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b))
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – More than a year: 30 days (68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b))
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Month-to-Month Lease: 15 days (68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b))
  • Notice of Date/Time of Move-Out Inspection: No Statute
  • Notice of Termination of a Lease for Nonpayment: 10 Days (68 P.S. §§ 250.501(b))

What happens after a 10-, 15-, or 30-day notice to vacate in Pennsylvania?

After the notice period is over, the landlord must file a complaint. The Magisterial Judge’s office will schedule a hearing between seven and 15 days after the date of the complaint.

Eviction notice template

Find a 10-, 15-, or 30-day notice to vacate template at eForms. Choose between forms for:

  • Non-payment of rent
  • Non-compliance
  • Illegal activities

Three-day eviction notice in Pennsylvania

The Magisterial District Judge will decide within three days of the hearing. In some cases the judgment will be on the day of the hearing. The judge will issue the decision as a written Notice of Judgment. If the decision is in the landlord’s favor, tenants have 10 days to move out of the rental property or file an appeal (which may mean paying a bond).

In if the judgment is “possession granted if money judgment not satisfied,” a tenant may remain in the rental property if he or she pays the money owed to the landlord in full, including judgment costs.

Dealing with abandoned property in Pennsylvania 

(Act of Jul. 5, 2012, P.L. 1091, No. 129)

  • The landlord must send a notice to the tenant stating that personal property has been left behind with contact information for the landlord. The tenant then has ten days from the date of postmark of the notice to contact the landlord.
  • If the tenant does contact with landlord within the ten day period, the landlord must allow the tenant a total of thirty days (the first ten plus twenty more) to get the items. After the first ten days, the landlord may move the items to another location and charge the tenant for storage.
  • If the tenant does not contact the landlord within ten days, the landlord may dispose of the items and have no further responsibility for them.
  • The law applies when either (1) the landlord has received a judgment in an eviction case and has executed an order for possession, or (2) the tenant has given written notice that he has left the home.

Required notices before entry in Pennslyvania

How notice is required before a landlord can enter the property? No exact amount of time is specified but generally at least 24 hours is recommended.

Are landlords allowed to enter the property to conduct repairs and maintenance? There is no statute, but with proper notice landlords should be able to enter the property to conduct necessary repairs. Notice periods are generally waived in the case of an emergency.

Are landlords allowed to enter the property for showings? Again, there is no statute in Pennsylvania on this. However, tenant's have the right to 'quiet enjoyment' of their property. It is always recommended to give reasonable notice before entry. Reasonable notice is generally considered at least 24-48 hours.


6. Pennsylvania rental application laws

There is no limit to how much landlords may charge for rental applications in Pennsylvania. Furthermore, the rental process is separate from the security deposit and the fees are non-refundable.

Pennsylvania rental application laws for background checks

Landlords in Pennsylvania may use a basic rental application form to screen potential tenants. They may only use screening criteria that do not violate civil rights laws (such as the Fair Housing Act) and that would not lead to housing discrimination. To avoid claims of discrimination, landlords should use the same procedure with all applicants.

It’s important to note that, although a criminal background is not a protected class, landlords must not use criminal background as the sole criteria in a rental application because it may have a disproportionate effect on some protected groups. The exception is if the criminal background is for crimes related to homicide, the manufacturing or distribution of drugs, or stalking.

Some municipalities in Pennsylvania have their own laws for background checks, which may further limit what landlords are allowed to ask.


7. Breaking a lease in Pennsylvania

Can you get out of a lease early?

Landlords usually require tenants to provide written notice to terminate a lease early. Timeframes typically range from 15 to 60 days.

What happens if you break a lease?

After breaking a lease, tenants may need to pay a penalty fee of one or two months’ rent. However, since landlords are under no obligation to find a new tenant after the current tenant breaks a lease, a tenant may need to continue paying rent until the lease expires.

How to break a lease in Pennsylvania without penalty

There are some valid reasons for breaking a lease in Pennsylvania. If any of these apply, the tenant will avoid a penalty:

  • The lease includes an early lease termination clause and the tenant meets all the requirements.
  • The tenant is entering active military duty.
  • The landlord has repeatedly violated the lease or is harassing the tenant. This could include unreasonable entry (such as entering the property without giving at least 24 hours’ notice) or changing the locks without the tenant giving permission.
  • The unit is uninhabitable, violating Title 35 Pennsylvania Statute § 1700-1.
  • The lease was illegal.
  • The unit doesn’t provide reasonable accommodations to a tenant with a disability.
  • The landlord is unable to provide the tenant with mandatory disclosures.

How to get out of a lease early with active military duty

Federal law gives tenants the right to break a lease under the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA). This covers all the uniformed services: armed forces, commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, and activated National Guard. The tenancy terminates 30 days after the next rent is due.

Landlord breaking a lease early

Landlords in Pennsylvania may terminate a lease early if they wish to evict a tenant. The tenant must have broken the terms of the lease and the landlord must follow proper procedure.


8. HOA laws in Pennsylvania

HOA rules and regulations

A few key laws apply to Pennsylvania homeowners associations (HOAs):

Unenforceable HOA rules in Pennsylvania

HOAs in Pennsylvania are not allowed to have restrictive covenants that prevent homeowners from:

  • Displaying the U.S. national flag in accordance with federal legislation
  • Installing antennas and satellites


9. Squatters rights Pennsylvania

Since squatters are not lawful tenants, they are not subject to landlord–tenancy restrictions. However, if they’re not causing any damage to the property and haven’t taken any of your possessions, they won’t be prosecuted for residing in the unit. To remove squatters, you need to go through an eviction process.

30-day squatters rights in Pennsylvania

A tenant who stops paying rent in Pennsylvania becomes a squatter. If the tenant has already rented for at least a year, the landlord must provide 30 days’ notice for eviction.

Squatters’ rights to property

A squatter who remains in a unit for 21 years can obtain adverse possession of property. This gives the squatter the same rights as any other lawful homeowner. To qualify, the squatter must:

  • Be visibly living in the property
  • Not be sharing the property with anyone else
  • Have active control over the property
  • Be unaware that the occupation was unlawful

42 Pennsylvania C.S. § 5530


10. Pennsylvania landlord tenant legal resources

Below, you’ll find some helpful Pennsylvania landlord–tenant law resources:

Court & Legal Related

Business Licenses

Helpful Links

This article is designed to convey information, and not to provide legal advice. You should not consider any information in this article to be legal advice. Readers should consider obtaining specific legal advice from an attorney for any decision or course of action contemplated.