Tenant Law in Pennsylvania
In Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, relationships between tenants and landlords can sometimes become strained.
Tenants and landlords have many legal rights and responsibilities. In general, these rights don't conflict with one another, as long as both parties are clear about what they are, and act accordingly.
Landlord's Rights in Westmoreland County, 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.
Landlords also have a right to be compensated for damage to the building that a tenant causes, either intentionally or negligently. Any damage caused by a tenant, besides reasonable wear and tear, can be billed, and the landlord can deduct from the tenant's security deposit to pay for repairs.
Tenant's Rights in Westmoreland County, PA
Most basically, tenants have a right to get what they're paying for: a dwelling fit for human habitation. To this end, landlords have to ensure that the units they rent meet Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania's minimum standards for habitability. These requirements are normallyy not difficult to meet. They include basic amenities such as running water, electricity, a working phone line, heating, and protection from the elements.
In addition to habitable living spaces, tenants also have a right to reasonably safe common areas. Common areas include lobbies, hallways, and stairwells - basically anything that everyone living in an apartment complex has access to. These common areas must meet the building standards of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, and must not contain any unnecessary safety hazards.
Under the laws of Pennsylvania, and the United States, discrimination in housing on the basis of race, religion, or gender is strictly prohibited. Additionally, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, landlords must not discriminate against renters on the basis of any physical disability. They also have to authorize the renter to make reasonable modifications to their apartment, to make it more accessible. Generally, landlords are only required to allow relatively minor and reversible modifications, and tenants cannot compel them to remodel the building, for example. Also, once the tenant leaves, the landlord can bill the tenant for the costs of restoring the apartment to its original condition.
Finally, 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 Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Landlords and tenants almost always prefer to avoid conflict. In a perfect world, tenants would pay rent on time, and landlords would always provide the services that they're being paid for. As we know, the world isn't perfect. When situations demonstrate the world's imperfection, a Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania real estate attorney can help, whether you're a landlord or a tenant.