Surviving Domestic / Sexual Assault (Philadelphia)
Landlord Retaliatory Actions
Evicting / Ending Lease
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 withraised rent,reduced services,orthreatened evictionagainst 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 byasking a court to award double the monthly rentor the cost of restoring utilities (whichever is greater), plus court costs and attorney fees.
Where retaliation is banned locally, likePhiladelphia, 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.
“It is unlawful for any landlord ratepayer or agent or employee thereof to threaten or take reprisals against a tenant because the tenant exercised his rights under section 1527 (relating to right of tenants to continued [utility] service) or section 1529 (relating to right of tenant to recover payments [that restored service]). …[damages] shall be two months rent or the actual damages sustained by the tenant, whichever is greater, and the costs of suit and reasonable attorneys’ fees.”
“It shall be unlawful for any owner, landlord, agent or other person operating or managing premises to terminate a lease with a tenant or make, alter, amend or modify any term or condition of any existing lease or arrangement of tenancy with a tenant in retaliation for: (a) any violation having been found against the premises; (b) the filing of a complaint alleging a violation; (c) the joining of any lawful organization, or any other exercise of a legal right. It shall be unlawful for any owner, landlord, agent or other person operating or managing premises to refuse to lease any premises to a prospective tenant because he believes the prospective tenant has exercised any such right; (d) an incident of domestic violence or sexual assault in which a tenant was the victim, or a tenant’s status as a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault.”