Tenant Law in Pennsylvania
In Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, relationships between tenants and landlords can occasionally become strained.
Landlords and tenants have various 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 Huntingdon, PA
Landlords are, of course, entitled to collect rent from their tenants. If a tenant fails to pay the agreed-upon rent, the landlord is normally able to evict the tenant without too much trouble, though the process can sometimes get fairly complicated.
Moreover, landlords can bill the tenant for any damage they cause to the unit, whether it was intentional or negligent. The costs of repairs for such damage can be deducted from a tenant's security deposit, but it should be noted that tenants aren't responsible for usual wear and tear, over which they have little control.
Tenant's Rights in Huntingdon, PA
At the most basic level, tenants have a basic right to what they're paying for: a habitable living environment. Consequently, landlords in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania must ensure that the units they rent to tenants meet some basic standards for human habitation. These requirements vary from state to state, but are often fairly easy to meet. There are no legal criteria that rented units be pretty, particularly spacious, or luxurious. They simply have to be fit for human beings to live in them. To be considered "habitable," rented units must have water, electricity, some form of heating (if the local climate necessitates it), and adequate protection from the elements (proper insulation, no roof leaks, windows that close, etc.).
Furthermore, tenants have rights to common areas that are free of physical obstructions, as well as serious health and safety hazards. Common areas are the places in apartment buildings and other residential complexes which every tenant can access, and include hallways, stairwells, and fire escapes. In Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, these areas must be kept in a safe condition, at the landlord's expense.
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 additionally 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 usually 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 Huntingdon, Pennsylvania Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, chances are that you want to prevent conflict. But if you do end up in a seemingly irresolvable conflict with the other party, a Huntingdon, Pennsylvania attorney can help you protect your rights.