Pennsylvania Landlord Retaliation Laws

Pennsylvania Landlord Retaliation Laws

Last Updated: June 29, 2023

Tenant Protected Actions
  • Paying to Restore / Maintain Utilities
  • Pointing Out Law / Code Violations (Philadelphia)
  • Joining Lawful Organizations (Philadelphia)
  • Surviving Domestic / Sexual Assault (Philadelphia)
Landlord Retaliatory Actions
  • Evicting / Ending Lease
  • Raising Rent
  • Changing Lease Terms
Penalties for Retaliation
  • Recover Costs OR 2x Rent, Plus Attorney Fees (Utility Retaliation)

When Is It Illegal for Landlords to Retaliate in Pennsylvania?

It’s illegal for Pennsylvania landlords to retaliate with raised rent, reduced services, or threatened eviction against tenants who have recently paid to restore or maintain utilities. In some cities, like Philadelphia, retaliation is also illegal after the following situations occur:

  • The landlord is cited for a code violation.
  • The tenant complains about a potential code violation.
  • The tenant joins a lawful organization or exercises any tenant rights.
  • The tenant is victimized by sexual or domestic assault.

The law allows an exception when the landlord can prove a non-retaliatory, good-faith reason for the alleged retaliatory action. For example, a landlord who raises rent proportionately in response to a large increase in property tax is not retaliating, even if a tenant has recently complained about maintenance.

What Can Tenants Do in Response in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania tenants can respond to retaliation over maintenance or restoration of utility services by asking a court to award double the monthly rent or the cost of restoring utilities (whichever is greater), plus court costs and attorney fees.

Where retaliation is banned locally, like Philadelphia, local officials will usually fine a landlord who’s liable for retaliation. In these cases, the tenant doesn’t need to take further action after reporting the retaliation.