With the current housing shortage, it’s important to know and understand your rights as a renter. Knowing your rights and responsibilities as a tenant is very important and can lead to a good relationship with your landlord.
As a tenant, here are some general duties:
Keep the unit safe and clean.
Not deliberately or negligently damaging the unit.
Not disturbing other residents.
Here are some key rights:
Fair Warning: your landlord or building manager should never enter your unit without giving you at least 24 hour notice. In the case of an emergency and your landlord or building manager entered your unit, they must let you know within 2 days afterwards.
Security Deposit: your landlord must hold your security deposit in a federally insured interest-bearing account financial institution located in PA. That way, your landlord’s personal finances will not affect the return of your deposit. NOTE: Your landlord must also tell you what financial institution they use.
Security Deposit Return: your landlord must return your security deposit within 45 days of you vacating the property.
Security Deposit Deductions: if you’ve taken care of the property and there are no damages, you should be receiving your security deposit in full. However, if there are damages, your landlord is entitled to deduct the cost of repairs from your deposit. If that happens, your landlord must provide you with an itemized statement of damages within 30 days of the date you vacate the unit.
Minor Repairs: if you’ve notified your landlord that something is in need of repair and your landlord fails to take care of the problem you have the right to request in writing for repairs to be made within 14 days. Then, if the problem is still not fixed you are legally allowed to hire someone to fix the problem. Then, you have the right to deduct the cost from your next month’s rent. You can deduct up to $500 or 1/2 month’s rent, whichever is more, but not to exceed one month’s rent.
Major Repairs: if repairs are more serious than a leaky faucet you need to submit a written request for the repair to be made within 14 days. If nothing is done within that time, you have the right to terminate your lease and must move out within 30 days.
Essential Services: you’re required to receive heat, running or hot water, electricity, gas, and plumbing. If after written notice on failure of the above services and there is no remedy, you have several options: 1) have alternative services instated then deduct those costs from your rent 2) pay for another place to stay and deduct the cost of those accommodations from your next rent check 3) if within 72 hours your landlord has not fixed the issue, you have the right to terminate the lease and vacate within 30 days.
Subleases: you’re required to find a suitable subtenant of whom your landlord approves without charging you additional fees. If for some reason the new tenant does not work out, you are still responsible for paying rent for the rest of your lease. NOTE: Sublets are only allowed IF it specifically permits them in your lease. IF the sublet does not pay, you are still responsible to the rental terms.
Late Rent: your landlord may charge you a late fee.
Retaliation: as a tenant, you are protected by law against any retaliation on the part of your landlord. You are free to complain to government agencies, officials, police officers, landlord etc. without fear of retaliation. Your landlord is prohibited from retaliating by terminating or threatening to terminate a tenancy, increasing rent, decreasing services, etc.
Click HERE to read the Tenant-Landlord Handbook.
Click HERE to read the Federal Fair Housing Act.
Click HERE for information on the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Questions? Reach out to me at 717.963.0016 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.