Most residential leases and rental agreements in Pennsylvania require a security deposit. This is a dollar amount, usually one month's rent, that's intended to cover damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear, and to cushion the financial blow if a tenant skips out early on the lease without paying. Here’s a summary of Pennsylvania landlord-tenant laws that cover the use and return of security deposits.
Does Pennsylvania law limit how much a landlord can charge a tenant for a security deposit?
Yes. Under Pennsylvania landlord-tenant law, a landlord may charge a tenant the equivalent of two months' rent for the security deposit for the first year of renting and the equivalent of one month's rent during all subsequent years of renting.
To learn more about steps that tenants can take to protect their security deposit after they've paid it, check out Nolo's article Protect Your Security Deposit When You Move In.
What about when a tenant moves out? What is the deadline in Pennsylvania for returning a security deposit?
Under Pennsylvania law, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 30 days after the tenant has surrendered the rental property to the landlord (that is, returned the keys and vacated the property).
Learn more about tenants' rights and landlords' obligations when it comes to the return of the security deposit in Nolo's chart Cleaning and Repairs a Landlord Can Deduct from a Security Deposit and Nolo's article Get Your Security Deposit Back.
Is there additional information that Pennsylvania landlords must provide to tenants when it comes to security deposits in Pennsylvania?
Yes. For security deposits over $100, landlords in Pennsylvania must deposit the funds in a federally- or state-regulated institution and give the tenant the name and address of the banking institution and the amount of the deposit. Also in Pennsylvania, tenants who occupy a rental unit for two or more years are entitled to interest paid on the security deposit beginning on the 25th month of occupancy.
Where can I look up Pennsylvania law on security deposits?
If you want to go right to the source and look up Pennsylvania law on security deposits -- or if you're writing a letter to your landlord or tenant and want to cite the applicable law -- the relevant statute(s) can be found at Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Annotated Title 68 §§ 250.511a to 250.512. Your city or county might have different landlord-tenant and security deposit laws than those at the state level in Pennsylvania. For tips on looking up Pennsylvania state and local laws, check out Nolo's State Laws & Legal Research section.
You may also find useful information in the tenant guide available at http://tenant.net/Other_Areas/Penn/harris/pa-toc.html.