Landlord-Tenant: Brief Overview

A residential lease is where the landlord and tenant enter into a contract to lease premises, real property, for the sole purpose of living. The real property is used as a home.

The classic example of a lease is for an apartment. The lease can also be for a house or mobile home.

The lease is a contact between the landlord and tenant for the tenant or tenants to live in a home, apartment, or mobile home.

Almost everything that is created, memorialized, between parties—legally created—is bound by contractual law and equitable remedies and a lease is not excluded. The lease terms should follow the Landlord Tenant Act and its progeny. Depending on the facts one would also be liable with a Tort action. See Pugh v. Holmes, 486 Pa. 272, 405 A.2d 897 (1979); Staley v. Bovril, 553 Pa. 112, 718 A.2d 283 (1998); “The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951.” 68 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 250.101

All residential leases include the implied warranty of habitability and the covenant of quiet enjoyment, simply meaning a tenant, or tenants have a right to live in a healthy, habitable, and safe environment, and to enjoy, possess, the leases premises without disturbances.

Usually, a lease is made for a term of one year. At the end of the year, the tenant is given the option to renew. If, there is no renewal, or nothing done by the landlord before the renewal, or all parties (Landlord and Tenant) remain silent and the tenant stays, the lease becomes a Month-to-Month lease, and it is the custom that the previous terms of the lease are followed.

On the other hand, once the lease term is up, whatever the term is for, the landlord does not have to renew the lease and the tenant would have to vacate, hopefully peacefully—there is no self-help eviction in Pennsylvania.

Both the landlord and tenant or tenants have rights and duties. The leased premises must be kept in good condition, the condition it was at the time of the lease, at minimum.

Any problems, repairs needs, bug problems, etc., with the lease premises should be conveyed to the landlord in writing. The landlord will have a reasonable amount of time to cure, fix the problems. However, if after a reasonable amount of time has passed, a reasonable amount of time would depend on the problem, and the landlord has not cured the problem, depending on how the problem effected the leased premises, either all or part of the premises, the tenant would be evicted or constructive evicted from parts of the leased premises, and could withhold rent by paying rent when it is due each month to the prothonotary located at the main courthouse where you live. The rent would be held in escrow. The tenant would then have to file a complaint with the Magisterial District Justice in order to prove that the Landlord violated the lease by not curing, fulfilling his or her duty to keep the leases premises in good repair, a habitable, safe, and sanitary—no bug infestations, heat in the winter, no black mold, etc.

With a residential lease, in order for the landlord to evict the tenant written notice to vacate, quit, eviction, must be either posted on the leased premises or hand delivered to the tenant. The notice must include the reason for eviction. For a lease of lease than one year a notice to quit must be served upon the tenant and from time of service has fifteen (15) days

A landlord must file a notice to quit to regain possession of real property excluding mobile homes … “(1) Upon the termination of a term of the tenant, (2) or upon forfeiture of the lease for breach of its conditions, (3) or upon the failure of the tenant, upon demand, to satisfy any rent reserved and due.” . . . “in case of the expiration of a term or of a forfeiture for breach of the conditions of the lease where the lease is for any term of one year or less or for an indeterminate time, the notice shall specify that the tenant shall remove within fifteen days from the date of service thereof, and when the lease is for more than one year, then within thirty days from the date of service thereof. In case of failure of the tenant, upon demand, to satisfy any rent reserved and due, the notice shall specify that the tenant shall remove within ten days from the date of the service thereof.” 68 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 250.501.

“In case of the expiration of a term or of a forfeiture for breach of the conditions of the lease involving a tenant of a mobile home park as defined in the ‘Mobile Home Park Rights Act,’ where the lease is for any term of less than one year or for an indeterminate time, the notice shall specify that the tenant shall remove within thirty days from the date of service thereof, and when the lease is for one year or more, then within three months from the date of service thereof. In case of failure of the tenant, upon demand, to satisfy any rent reserved and due, the notice, if given on or after April first and before September first, shall specify that the tenant shall remove within fifteen days from the date of the service thereof, and if given on or after September first and before April first, then within thirty days from the date of the service thereof.” 68 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 250.501

Remember, this is a brief and general overview of Landlord-Tenant Law. It is very simple to start the process by filing a complaint with MDJ where you live, whether one is a landlord or tenant, but it is always better to have an attorney on you side, especially if there is an appeal since that is when it really gets complicated.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Landlord-Tenant: Brief Overview

  1. Paul Davidson

    Great article. Thanks for the info, you made it easy to understand. BTW, if anyone needs to fill out a Residential Lease Agreement form, I found a blank template form here http://goo.gl/bbfyWU. This site PDFfiller also has some tutorials on how to fill it out and several Residential Lease Agreement form that you might find useful.

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