Finding a suitable place to live isn’t always easy in Philadelphia. There are countless horror stories about landlords that may make you worry as you sign your lease agreement.
While many landlords follow the laws to the letter, some break the rules. Fortunately, you have tenant rights that help protect you. Understanding them can help you determine if you have a right to legal recourse.
The Right to an Eviction Hearing
Your landlord can’t just lock you out of your apartment to evict you. If they want to evict you, they must follow proper protocol. This includes getting a court hearing first, and if the ruling is in their favor, only a court officer can evict a tenant.
They Can’t Force You to Live in Dangerous Conditions
Every landlord has a duty to repair any material defects that affect either your health or safety. This must be done before you sign the lease and if any dangerous conditions arise, they are bound by the contract to repair them.
No Discrimination or Harassment
Landlords must be fair with their housing practices. This means that they can’t deny anyone housing or change the lease terms because of age, religion, race, gender identity, disabilities, status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual orientation, or number of children.
Reasonable Accommodations Must Be Made
Every landlord must change their procedures or policies to allow accommodation for tenants that have serious medical impairments such as blindness or lack of mobility.
Receiving Service Maintenance
If your landlord has provided benefits or service named in the lease, they are forbidden to discontinue it. They may, however, choose to remove it on the next lease after the current one has expired.
No matter what your lease says, you have a right to have visitors stay with you for what is deemed a reasonable period of time. The landlord cannot pose any additional charges for these visiting guests.
What to Know About Your Security Deposit
It’s common for landlords to request a security deposit when a new tenant is signing a lease. However, a landlord can never charge you more than the sum of two months’ rent for this deposit. They also aren’t permitted to keep more than one month’s security deposit for over a year and need to return this deposit to you after deducting any unpaid rent or damages you’ve caused.
Your Residential Privacy
It might be their property, but they need your permission before they enter to conduct any inspections or repairs. The only exception is if the required repairs are an emergency.
What to Know About Utilities
Landlords need to give you access to water, heat, gas, and electric services during your lease and they can’t bill you more than the utility company. They also can’t make you pay for utilities that are used by other people or for common areas.
If you’re experiencing these violations of your rights or the landlord is retaliating against you, you should speak with a landlord tenant lawyer in Philadelphia to protect your rights.