Pennsylvania Rent Control Laws in 2024

Introduction to Pennsylvania’s Rent Control Laws

Pennsylvania does not have any statewide rent control or rent stabilization laws. This means landlords can raise rents by any amount, as long as they provide proper notice. 

Unlike major cities like New York and San Francisco, there are currently no caps on how much landlords can increase rent each year in Pennsylvania. The state also does not limit how frequently rents can be raised. Essentially, the rental housing market determines how much landlords can increase rents based on supply and demand.

While tenant advocacy groups have called for some form of rent control in Pennsylvania, especially in larger cities, no rent stabilization laws have been passed so far. Both landlords and tenants should understand that Pennsylvania operates in a free market system when it comes to rental rates.

Rent Increase Notice Requirements

In Pennsylvania, landlords must provide tenants with proper notice before increasing rent on a rental unit. There are no rent control laws limiting how much a landlord can raise the rent, but they must still follow notice requirements.

Pennsylvania law states that landlords must provide tenants with *at least 30 days* notice prior to a rent increase on a monthly lease. For leases longer than 1 month, such as quarterly or annual leases, landlords must provide *60 days* notice before raising the rent. 

The notice provided should be written and state the new increased amount of rent and the date when the increase will go into effect. Verbal notices are not sufficient. 

If a landlord does not provide the required 30 days notice for a monthly lease, or 60 days for longer lease terms, then they are not allowed to increase the rent until proper notice has been given. Tenants have grounds to challenge the rent increase if their landlord does not follow these rent increase notice rules.

Limits on Security Deposits

Pennsylvania law limits how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit. For an unfurnished unit, the security deposit cannot exceed two months' rent. For a furnished unit, the security deposit is capped at three months' rent.

The security deposit functions as a type of insurance for the landlord in case the tenant causes damage to the unit or fails to pay rent. However, the deposit belongs to the tenant, and must be returned within 30 days after the tenant moves out. The landlord can withhold money from the deposit only for unpaid rent or reasonable damages beyond normal wear and tear. 

Tenants should make sure to conduct a walkthrough inspection and document the condition of the unit when moving in and out. Take dated photos or video to prove the state of the unit and ensure the full deposit is refunded. Get receipts for payment of the security deposit and make sure it is not more than the legal limit.

Rent Increase Frequency

Pennsylvania does not limit how often a landlord can raise the rent on a rental unit. Landlords can increase the rent as frequently as they want, as long as they provide proper notice to the tenant before each increase goes into effect. 

There is no limit on the number of times per year or month that rent can be raised. For example, a landlord could choose to increase the rent every month if they wanted to, as long as they gave the required notice each time. Some landlords increase the rent just once per year, while others may opt for two or more increases annually. The frequency of rent increases depends on factors like market conditions, demand, the landlord's costs, and their desired profit margin.

While landlords legally can raise the rent very frequently, most avoid extremely frequent increases, as it tends to result in higher turnover as tenants get frustrated with constant rent hikes. Frequent increases may also discourage prospective tenants from renting. But there are no laws prohibiting landlords from raising rents as often as they want, as long as proper notice requirements are met each time. Tenants should be prepared for the possibility of frequent rent increases in Pennsylvania.

Rent Increase Amount

Pennsylvania does not have any laws limiting how much a landlord can raise the rent on a rental unit. Landlords have the right to raise rents to market rates when a lease term expires or with proper notice during a lease term. 

There is no cap on the maximum amount or percentage that rents can be increased in Pennsylvania. Landlords are free to raise rents as much as they choose, as long as proper notice requirements are met. The main factor limiting excessive rent increases is competition and market rates for comparable rental units in the area.

Unlike some other states and cities, Pennsylvania does not have any rent control or rent stabilization laws that limit rent increases. Without such protections, tenants have little recourse against large rent hikes beyond trying to negotiate with the landlord or moving out at the end of their lease. However, landlords do need to balance maximizing profits with keeping reliable, long-term tenants.

Some tenant advocacy groups have called for rent control laws to be implemented in Pennsylvania, especially in larger cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh where rents have been rising sharply. But so far, no rent control legislation has passed at the state level. Tenants concerned about steep rent increases may want to get involved in advocacy efforts around implementing rent stabilization policies.

Tenant Rights and Protections

Tenants in Pennsylvania have certain rights and protections under state law. Some key rights include:

Right to Habitability

  • Landlords must provide safe and habitable housing that meets basic living standards. This includes necessities like hot water, heating, electricity, smoke detectors, and being free of infestations and major structural issues.  
  • If a rental unit is deemed "uninhabitable" due to failures by the landlord, tenants have the right to withhold rent until repairs are made. Tenants should notify landlords of issues in writing and allow reasonable time for repairs.

Protection Against Retaliation

  • Landlords cannot retaliate against tenants who exercise their legal rights, such as requesting repairs or filing complaints. Retaliation may include eviction, shutting off utilities, or harassment.
  • If a landlord tries to evict a tenant within 6 months after the tenant requested repairs or made a complaint, the eviction may be considered an act of retaliation. The burden of proof would be on the landlord to show the eviction is valid.


  • Landlords cannot refuse to rent to tenants or treat tenants differently based on race, religion, gender, familial status, disability, or other protected classes.  
  • If tenants experience discrimination in housing, they can file a complaint with the state Human Relations Commission.

Withholding Rent

Tenants in Pennsylvania have the right to withhold rent payments in certain situations where the landlord has failed to uphold their duties. This is known as "rent escrow" or "rent withholding". 

If a landlord fails to provide essential services, such as heat, water, electricity, or maintenance of hazardous conditions, tenants may withhold rent. Before withholding rent, the tenant must notify the landlord in writing of the failure to provide essential services. This written notice must specify the services or maintenance that are lacking.  

After providing written notice, if the landlord fails to remedy the situation within a reasonable timeframe, the tenant can withhold rent. The tenant should set aside the withheld rent in a separate escrow account. This ensures the money is available to pay the landlord once the issues are resolved.

Withholding rent without proper notice or reason can lead to eviction proceedings by the landlord. Tenants should consult local tenant advocacy organizations if considering withholding rent to fully understand their rights and responsibilities. Withholding rent is a serious step that requires following proper procedures. When used correctly, it can compel landlords to fulfill their duty to provide safe and habitable housing.

Late Fees

Landlords in Pennsylvania can charge late fees if paying rent late is addressed in the lease agreement. Typically, late fees in PA are around 5-10% of the monthly rent amount. 

For example, if your monthly rent is $1,000, your landlord could charge a late fee of $50-$100 if you do not pay rent on time as outlined in the lease. Some leases may specify a flat dollar amount for late fees instead of a percentage.

It's important for tenants to closely review their lease and understand when rent payments are due each month. Paying rent late can result in accumulating late fees, which can become costly over time.  

If a tenant frequently pays rent late, the landlord may consider this a lease violation and could move to evict the tenant. Tenants who anticipate having difficulty paying rent on time should proactively communicate with their landlord to try and work out alternative arrangements.

Rental Licenses

Pennsylvania does not require landlords to obtain a state rental license in order to operate rental properties. However, many local municipalities have their own rental licensing and inspection requirements that landlords must comply with. 

Renters should check with their local city, township, or borough to understand if rental properties in their area need to be registered and licensed. Local rental licensing helps ensure properties meet health, safety, and occupancy standards. 

Some examples of cities with rental licensing in Pennsylvania include:

  • Philadelphia: All rental properties must be licensed and inspected. Single family rentals and owner-occupied duplexes are exempt.
  • Pittsburgh: Rental properties with 3 or more units must obtain a rental license and pass inspections.
  • State College: Landlords must obtain a rental permit and have properties inspected.
  • Scranton: Residential rental units must be registered and licensed. 
  • Lancaster: Rental units must pass inspection and be issued a rental occupancy permit.

If you live in an area with rental licensing, make sure your landlord has obtained the proper permit for your unit. You can check with your local government office to verify the license status and request an inspection if there are any health or safety issues. Having a valid rental license helps protect renters and ensures minimum housing standards are met.

Resources for Tenants

There are a few organizations in Pennsylvania that provide legal aid and advocacy for tenants facing issues with landlords:

CLS provides free civil legal assistance to low-income residents in Philadelphia. They have lawyers who can advise tenants on their rights and represent them in housing court against illegal evictions or rent increases.

This non-profit offers legal representation for low-income tenants across several counties in Pennsylvania. They focus on eviction defense, fighting illegal rent increases, and habitability issues.

Pennsylvania Utility Law Project

This group helps low-income tenants who are facing utility shut-offs or unaffordable utility bills. They can provide legal advice and representation related to utilities being included in rent.

Tenant Union Representative Network (TURN)

TURN organizes tenant unions and associations across Pennsylvania to advocate for tenant rights and rent control laws. They provide education and support tenant organizing efforts.

Make the Road Pennsylvania

This organization supports immigrant and working class communities through legal services, leadership development, and community organizing. They have programs focused on tenants' rights.

If you are facing potential illegal actions by your landlord such as excessive rent increases, harassment, or wrongful eviction, be sure to contact a local legal aid organization to understand your rights and options as a tenant. There are resources available even if you cannot afford a private attorney.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there rent control in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania does not have statewide rent control laws. Local municipalities are currently prohibited from enacting rent control policies unless authorized by the state legislature.

What is the average rent increase in Pennsylvania?

The average rent increase in Pennsylvania varies by location and market conditions, but increases generally align with market rates. Historically, average annual rent increases have ranged between 2% to 5%, depending on the economic conditions and housing demand in specific areas.

What are renters' rights in Pennsylvania?

Renters in Pennsylvania have rights under the Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant Act, which includes the right to a safe and habitable living environment, the right to privacy, and protection against unlawful discrimination. Tenants are also entitled to receive notice before eviction proceedings can be initiated and have the right to have their security deposits returned with a detailed list of deductions, if any, within 30 days after vacating the premises.

What is the maximum a landlord can raise rent in PA?

There is no legal maximum rent increase in Pennsylvania at the state level, as there are no rent control laws. Landlords can set rental increases as they see fit, provided they give tenants proper notice, usually 30 to 60 days, depending on the lease agreement.

Is Pennsylvania a tenant-friendly state?

Pennsylvania is considered moderately tenant-friendly. The state offers several protections for tenants, such as requiring landlords to maintain habitable living conditions and stipulating strict guidelines for eviction and security deposit returns. However, the lack of rent control and other stringent pro-tenant regulations means it does not lean as heavily towards tenant rights as some other states.

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