Tenant Law in Pennsylvania
In Altoona, Pennsylvania, relationships between tenants and landlords can occasionally become strained.
Landlords and tenants have many rights and responsibilities. What follows is a partial list of the rights that landlords and tenants have, and the corresponding duties of the other party.
Landlord's Rights in Altoona, PA
The most basic right that landlords have is the right to be paid the agreed-upon rent by their tenant. Obviously, renting apartments is how landlords acquire a living, so they are entitled to collect the rent that the tenant agreed to pay.
Furthermore, landlords have a right to be compensated for damage a tenant causes to a rented unit, either intentionally or negligently. Landlords have a right to deduct repair costs from tenants' security deposits, unless the damage was caused by usual wear and tear, for which tenants are not accountable.
Tenant's Rights in Altoona, PA
Much like landlords have a right to get paid for the service they provide, tenants have a right to get what they pay for: a suitable place to reside. In Altoona, Pennsylvania, all residential rental agreements carry an "implied warranty of habitability." This means that a landlord implicitly guarantees that any residence he or she rents will be fit for human habitation. In general, an unit will be automatically deemed uninhabitable if it lacks running water, electricity, heat, and acceptable protection from the elements. There are numerous more factors that can be considered, as well, but those are some of the basics.
Tenants also have a right to ensure that the common areas of their apartment building are reasonably safe. Landlords are required to make sure that the common areas of their buildings meet Altoona, Pennsylvania's building codes, and that there are no conditions that create unnecessary safety hazards. They are obligated to make, at their own expense, the required repairs.
Under federal and Pennsylvania law, tenants are also entitled to protection against discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, marital status, or gender. Such discrimination can lead to grave civil penalties against the landlord. Landlords further cannot discriminate against tenants based on physical disability, and have to make reasonable accommodations for physically disabled tenants. For instance, they have to allow disabled tenants to make minor physical alterations to the unit (at the tenant's expense) to make it more accessible. Now, they don't need to allow the tenants to have the building remodeled. We're just talking about things like installing handrails in the bathroom, and similar things. The landlord can, however, require tenants to restore the apartment to its original condition, at the tenant's expense, once the tenant leaves.
Lastly, tenants are legally protected from arbitrary eviction. Landlords typically must have a very good reason to evict a tenant before the lease agreement reaches the end of its term (at this point, they are of course allowed to decline to renew the lease). Of course, if the tenant breaches the lease agreement (such as by failing to pay rent, damaging the property, or violating other reasonable rules the landlord has put in the lease), the landlord, like a party to any other contract, is free to terminate the agreement and evict the breaching tenant.
Can a Altoona, Pennsylvania Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Landlords and tenants normally prefer to avoid getting into fights with one another, for apparent reasons. A harmonious relationship is profitable for everyone involved. To that end, the advice of a good Altoona, Pennsylvania landlord/tenant attorney can help defuse arguments before they become too serious.