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10/22/2021 10:31 AM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20210&cosponId=36016
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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: July 26, 2021 11:01 AM
From: Representative Emily Kinkead
To: All House members
Subject: Uniform Tenants’ Bill of Rights
 
Pennsylvania is in the midst of a housing crisis. In our Commonwealth, nearly 32% of households are renters, but our outdated and difficult-to-navigate landlord-tenant laws simply do not do enough to protect tenants from predatory and capricious landlords. With that in mind, in the near future, I will be introducing legislation that will simplify and standardize tenants’ rights in Pennsylvania by applying the protections created for mobile home park tenants under the Mobile Home Park Rights Act (MHPRA) to all housing tenants, regardless of the type of rental.

In 2010, this Legislature passed the MHPRA to protect individuals and families who rent space for their mobile homes in a mobile home park. As with the MHPRA, under the Uniform Tenants’ Bill of Rights, a resident may only be evicted for the following reasons:
  1. Nonpayment of rent;
  2. A second or additional violation of the terms of the lease occurring within a six-month period after the initial violation; or
  3. A change in the use of the residence.
All notices pursuant to the Uniform Tenants’ Bill of Rights must be in writing and mailed to the resident by certified mail. All landlords would be required to provide a copy of the tenant’s rights pursuant to the Uniform Tenants’ Bill of Rights to all tenants prior to collecting any deposits or fees.

Under the Uniform Tenants’ Bill of Rights, if the reason for the eviction is nonpayment of rent, the certified mail notice must say that the tenant will be evicted if they do not pay the overdue rent within 20 days from the date the letter is received if notice is given on or after April 1 and before September 1, and 30 days if it is given on or after September 1 and before April 1. If the overdue rent is not paid within 20 or 30 days, or if the tenant falls behind for a second or more time within six (6) months, the landlord may immediately start the eviction process.

For any other lease violations, the tenant must first receive a warning notice by certified mail describing the violation. If within the next (6) months after receiving such a warning, the tenant commits an additional violation of any lease provision, the landlord must send an eviction notice by personal service or, in the alternative, post on the tenant’s door a notice that eviction proceedings have been filed against the tenant. (If the term of a tenant’s lease is for one year or more, the time between notice and actual eviction cannot be fewer than three (3) months.) However, for the landlord to evict a tenant for any other lease violation, the landlord must be able to show that they have consistently applied the lease provision(s) at issue equally to all tenants.

The “change in use” provision—which can apply to a sale, new lease, or closure of the rental home-- requires written notice from landlord to tenant within 30 days after any agreement of sale is signed, and requires notice from original landlord to tenant of new owner’s name and contact information within 30 days of title transfer. If a closure of the rental home is imminent, the landlord must provide written notice to tenants within 60 days of the decision, and must include the estimated date (which can be no less than 180 days from the date of notice) that residents and tenants will be expected to vacate the property.

None of these rights will be able to be waived by any written or oral agreement.

Furthermore, the Uniform Tenants’ Bill of Rights codifies a right for a tenant to take legal action in court if a landlord violates their rights. The Uniform Tenants’ Bill of Rights also gives the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, or the District Attorney of the county in which the tenant lives, the right to go to court on a tenant’s behalf if they agree that the tenant’s rights have been violated and either office feels that taking action in court would be in the public’s interest.

Please join me in sponsoring this long overdue and common-sense legislation that would both simplify and streamline our landlord-tenant procedures in Pennsylvania while providing a consistent and clear standard for the rights of both parties in what can sometimes become a testy, adversarial, and litigious relationship.
 

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Introduced as HB1979