What Legal Rights Do Tenants Have?

In Philadelphia, you have more rights as a tenant than you may realize. If you’re a renter, you should know more about your legal rights if you have trouble with a landlord. Likewise, landlords need to know these rights to make sure they do not create a violation.


Understanding Good Cause for Evictions

Landlords can’t simply evict a tenant for no reason in this state, which is why ‘good cause’ needs to be understood. A landlord can evict a tenant for habitual non-payment or late payments of rent. They can also evict a renter for a breach of the rental agreement.

Tenants who are a nuisance to others who live on the property and ruin their enjoyment of the shared areas or who cause substantial property damage are also subject to eviction through good cause. What surprises many tenants is that the landlord needs to have access to the property. Landlords must provide written notice for this access to the property, and when notice has been given and the tenant does not allow them inside, it is grounds for eviction.

Essentially, landlords must state the good cause basis in advance in writing. It must be delivered personally, posted to the property, or sent via certified mail.

In addition to the need for good cause, there are more legal rights that tenants have in Philadelphia.


Rights for Housing Violations and Retaliatory Evictions

Landlords can’t evict a tenant in situations where there are open housing violations. Laws also prohibit the termination of a lease for reporting a housing violation or exercising tenant rights.


Notice for Rental Increases

In Philadelphia, tenants can’t be given rental increases without sufficient notice. For a one-year lease term, landlords must provide at least 60 days’ notice, and for terms that are less than one year, it must be at least 30 days’ notice. These notices must also include the amount of the rent increase and the date it becomes effective along with the new total amount that will be due when the increase takes effect.


Adequate Heating Rights

Building codes require that every habitable room or apartment be maintained at a proper temperature in the colder months. The minimum is 68 degrees Fahrenheit from the start of October through the end of April.


Implied Warranty of Habitability

Under this part of tenant rights, tenants need to understand that the landlord is obligated to maintain the premises to keep it habitable. Tenants need to provide notice of any needed repairs and allow for the landlord to have reasonable time to fix them. If there is a habitability issue, tenants may be able to withhold rent. Because this can get complicated, a tenant lawyer may be helpful in situations where the property has become uninhabitable.


What Rights Do Tenants Have in a Philadelphia Court?

When a landlord files a case regarding a tenant, the landlord needs to prove that the tenant violated the lease terms and the landlord was compliant with the applicable ordinances. Likewise, if the tenant wants to bring a case to the courts, they must prove that there is an issue such as a breach of the warranty of habitability.


Tenants who file for bankruptcy tend to be granted an automatic stay, meaning they can’t be evicted from the property. This will be in place as long as the tenant files for bankruptcy before any judgment of landlord-tenant actions.


Have Your Tenant’s Rights Been Violated?

Landlords will always have legal representation, but tenants should also seek legal advice. You may find out that your rights have been violated and learn how you can take action.