Basic Tenants Rights

A tenant has certain basic rights, whether written into the lease or not. The Landlord Tenant Act of 1951 outlines these basic tenant’s rights. Since 1951 there have been certain amendments to the law, such as the “Warranty of Habitability” (1978) and the Philadelphia City Council Ordinance of 1987, making it illegal for a landlord to lock a tenant out, shut off utilities, or harass with the intention of evicting without due process.

In July 1994 the “Plain Language Contract Act” was enacted. According to this act all residential leases after this date must be written, organized, and designed so that they are easy to read and understand by consumers.

Tenants have the right to:

  • Fair Housing or freedom from discrimination because of membership in a protected class (in the state of Pennsylvania the protected classes are: race, color, national origin, gender, familial status, disability, creed, ancestry, or age over 40);
  • Repairs to be made promptly and properly by property owner/manager;
  • Enforce the right to habitable premises by using legal remedies such as repair and deduct, rent reduction, rent withholding, or move out of uninhabitable premises with the right to recover all prepaid rent and deposits; and
  • A clean, safe place to live, in compliance with the warranty of habitability, which includes:
  • structurally sound building
    • waterproof roofs, ceilings, and walls
    • walls and woodwork properly painted (no peeling paint)
    • adequate heat in winter
    • hot and cold running water
    • bathroom equipment and drains that work properly
    • functioning stove
    • doors that lock properly
    • windows that work and can be locked
    • apartment/house free from infestation with roaches and/or rodents
    • a building with smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and fire escapes