Pennsylvania Residential Lease Agreement

Get your free Pennsylvania residential lease agreement and read further about required disclosures in Pennsylvania lease agreements, optional addendums and more.

Click here to view/download the direct PDF file.

“Should I even use a free lease agreement template?”

If you are a tenant simply looking to formalize your renting relationship, the above options will suffice. If you are a landlord, we seriously caution the use of free “one size fits all” templates due to the opportunity cost of an incorrect or incomplete lease agreement (think: premature lease breaking, fines for non-disclosures, etc.).

With that said, unless you’re renting out 100+ units, you probably don’t need to spend a few hundred dollars of an attorney’s time to get one drafted. A few different law startups have created step-by-step legal document wizards that take 5-10 minutes, and only run you ~$30 for a lease agreement (or a few bucks a month for access to all document templates you’d need).

Quick Facts for Pennsylvania

Max Term

N/A

Max Security Deposit

2 months’ rent

Who Needs to Sign

Landlord, all tenants, and all co-signers or guarantors

Required Disclosures

Late fees

Legal Early Termination

Beyond written mutual consent, a tenant can break their lease without penalty in Pennsylvania if they’re starting active military duty, the unit is considered uninhabitable, or the landlord violates their privacy rights. In these cases, the landlord must make reasonable effort to re-rent the unit. A landlord may break a lease in Pennsylvania for a number of reasons, including not paying rent, violating the lease or rental agreement, or committing an illegal act. Before breaking a lease, the landlord must first serve the tenant written notice.

Addendums to Consider

Pets, Utility Allocation, Mold, & Criminal Activity, Marijuana Use (Medical Use is legal)

What’s in a Pennsylvania Residential Lease Agreement

To start, let’s make sure we’re on the same page:

DEFINITION

A residential lease agreement is a contract between a landlord and a tenant for the use of property for a fixed period in exchange for regular payments. By contrast, a rental agreement has no fixed period, and as a result, is usually month-to-month (read more). Residential lease agreements are governed by Pennsylvania landlord-tenant law.

Let’s now go through what you need to include in a residential lease agreement template in Pennsylvania. This includes:

Basic Elements of Residential Lease Agreements in Pennsylvania

A lease introduction clearly states the full names of the tenant(s) and landlord(s), the date of the agreement and a detailed description of the rental property.  It is critical to be as specific as possible when creating a lease introduction. The necessary components of a lease introduction are listed here:

  • Names of the tenant and landlord:  This is a small, yet crucial, piece of a residential lease agreement.  The residential lease should include the full legal names of all adults living in the rental property.  These names should be written or typed clearly. Shortened versions of names, abbreviations or nicknames should not be used.  This ensures that involved parties are held accountable in the event of legal action.  
  •  Date of the agreement:  The date of the lease should be fully written, indicating the month, day and year.  Dashes, slashes or abbreviations should be avoided to maintain clarity.  
  • Terms & Limits of Occupancy: This section defines the beginning and end date of the lease agreement, including provisions for any extensions. After any fixed periods, the contract can be week-to-week, month-to-month, quarter-to-quarter, or from year-to-year. The periods at which the rent is to be paid determine the tenancy.
  •  Address and description of the rental property:  Here, the explicit address of the property should be stated. The landlord’s address should also be stated. This portion of the lease introduction makes it clear to both parties which features of the property are included in the lease.  It should list all fixed and non-fixed features that are a part of the property. This may encompass:
    • Interior boundaries
    • Specific rooms
    • Stove
    • Refrigerator
    • Dishwasher
    • Microwave
    • Washer
    • Dryer
    • Balcony/patio
    • Light fixtures
    • Ceiling fans
    • Air conditioning units
    • Fireplace
    • Yard or other outdoor space
    • Fence
    • Garage
    • Driveway
    • Parking area
    • Shed/additional storage
    • Basement
    • Exterior fixtures
    • Grills
    • Pool
    • Children’s play structure
    • Furnishings, such as tables, chairs, beds, patio furniture or other items
  • Rent, Utilities & Security Deposits: The amount of the first month’s rent, security deposit, and the total amount of funds required need to be clearly outlined on the lease agreement. The method by which the funds are to be paid should also be included.
EXAMPLE

This is a lease (the “Lease”) […] between (Name of owner of the property) (“Landlord”) and (Name of person(s) to whom the property is leased) (“Tenant”), made this day of (Date).

TERM. The lease will be for a term of (Number of months) beginning on (Start date) and ending on (End date).

PREMISES. The premises is a (Type of dwelling i.e. house, apartment, etc.) located at (Address of rental property). The following features are included on the property (List of amenities).

RENT & UTILITIES. Tenants will pay a monthly rent of (Rent amount) on the (Day) of each month. Tenants are responsible for utilities including (List of utilities).

Indicating these features in the lease introduction provides tenants with a list of items that they have access to throughout the duration of the lease and informs tenants which features are expected to remain on-premises after the lease term is complete.  It also protects the landlord’s property upon the termination of the residential lease agreement

For landlords, this information should be used for verification purposes. Make sure to ask for current photo identification, such as a driver’s license, to verify each tenant’s identity. Once that’s verified, you’ll want to do background checks on all tenants 18 or older (see our guide here).

Required Disclosures in Pennsylvania

Late Fees

The landlord must disclose any additional fees that may be incurred as a result of late rental payments.

EXAMPLE

If Tenant fails to make a rent payment on Date of every month, they will be charged a fee of Dollar Amount for every day the rent is not paid.

Lead-Based Paint Hazards

This isn’t Pennsylvania-specific, but if the unit being rented out was built before 1978, the landlord is required to do the following 3 things:

  1. Provide the tenant with an EPA-approved pamphlet about the dangers of lead-based paint (see latest pamphlet PDFs here).
  2. Disclose any known information concerning lead-based paint in the unit (i.e. its location, condition, etc.), and include any records or reports about the paint or its hazards. For multi-unit buildings with common areas, this includes information from building-wide evaluations.
  3. Fill out and attach this disclosure form to the lease.

Pet Addendums in North Carolina

 The landlord must give written permission for a tenant to keep pets on the property. Pets are defined as dogs, cats, birds, fish, or other domestic animals of any kind.

The lease agreement shall specify how many animals the tenant can have and the type of animal.

Tenants are required to pay a pet deposit fee of an amount outlined in the lease, which is non-refundable. If provisions for maintaining a pet is not included in the lease, it shall be added as an addendum to the lease agreement.

NOTE

The signed pet agreement applies only to the pet specified in the signed contract. The pet addendum may not be substituted or transferred to any other pet. The landlord reserves the right to terminate the pet agreement if the tenant violates the terms of their contract.

Tenants are responsible for keeping their pets under control and not leaving them unattended for an unreasonable amount of time.

Tenants are responsible for their pets and any property damage caused by the pets.

It shall be the tenant’s responsibility to control any flea infestation because of their pets and to pay for the extermination of any and all affected areas.

The landlord is not liable for any injury that occurs from an attack or interaction with an animal, whether it occurs on or off the property. If an attack from an animal occurs and there is no fencing around the property, the landlord is not held liable because of the absence of a fence.

Although they are not required, the tenant is encouraged to obtain pet liability insurance if it is offered as a rider to their renter’s insurance policy.

After the lease has ended, the pet deposit will be used for cleaning the carpets or other areas damaged as a result of having pets on the premises.

Check out our sample of a pet addendum below.

This Addendum is made on [ DATE ] between [ LANDLORD’S NAME ] (Landlord) and [ TENANT’S NAME ] (Tenant), and is understood to modify the Residential Lease for [ PROPERTY ADDRESS ] originally dated [ DATE ].
1. PERMISSION

The landlord grants permission to the tenant to keep the domesticated pet(s) on the premises during the term of the lease agreement (INCLUDE LEASE START AND END DATE). The landlord may revoke permission at any time if the tenant fails to comply with any of the terms and conditions in the lease or following addendums.
2. SERVICE ANIMALS

Service, Guide, Signal, or Support animals are not “Pets” according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as long as the animal is being used by the tenant to support a disability or handicap, or if the tenant is training the animal(s).

 

If the tenant’s pet actually a Certified Service Animal or in training to be a Certified Service Animal? : _______ Yes _______ No
3. ANIMAL PROFILE

Type of Animal(s): Dog, Cat, Bird, Rabbit, Pig, Reptile, Fish (circle all that apply)
Name of Animal(s): ________________________
Weight of Animal(s): ______________________ (lbs.)
Breed of Animals(s): ______________________
Age of Animal(s): ________________________
Spayed or Neutered?: __________ Yes _______ No
Current on Vaccinations?: _______ Yes _______ No
Valid Animal Licenses?: _________ Yes _______ No

______________________________________
Tenant Signature
______________________________________
Landlord Signature

Applicable Law

Security Deposits in Pennsylvania

The laws regarding security deposits in Pennsylvania are in section 250.511a.

  • Security Deposit Limitations: In Pennsylvania, the limit for the security deposit during the first year of a lease is a maximum of two month’s rent. If a tenant rents for more than one year, in the second year and thereafter, the security deposit is limited to one month’s rent. Any amount of a security deposit that is more than this must be refunded to the tenant by the landlord at the start of the second year.
  • Security Deposit Account: The landlord must hold the security deposit funds in an escrow account that is state or federally regulated. If the security deposit exceeds $100, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing where the tenant’s funds are held.
  • Allowed Use of a Security Deposit: The landlord may use the security deposit funds for any unpaid rent, cleaning expenses, and/or to repair any damage done by the tenant that exceeds normal wear and tear.
  • Refund: The landlord must give the tenant an itemized list of any deductions taken from the security deposit and return the balance of the security deposit within 30 days after the tenant vacates the rental unit. If the departing tenant fails to give the landlord a new address, the landlord is relieved from this duty to refund the security deposit (section 250.512).

Breaking a Lease in Pennsylvania

A lease may have a clause that provides for early cancellation that explains the penalty. It usually is at least the amount of the security deposit. It may also create a liability  for all the lease payments remaining for the rest of the lease.

A tenant may be able to reduce the penalty by negotiating with the landlord and helping the landlord find a replacement tenant to reduce the financial loss for a vacant rental unit. A landlord has no legal obligation to find a replacement tenant.

If a tenant has good cause under the law, there are legal ways to break a lease that do not create such a penalty. These include the following circumstances:

  • The rental unit is not safe and not habitable with serious health and/or safety violations. The landlord is informed about these problems in writing but does not repair them within a reasonable amount of time.
  • The tenant is called up for active military duty, which involves relocation. 
  • The landlord violates a tenant’s right to privacy or harasses the tenant.

Eviction Process in Pennsylvania

Under Pennsylvanian laws a landlord can evict a tenant after giving notice to the tenant for these conditions:

  • Not paying the rent on time.
  • Serious violations of the lease agreement’s terms and conditions.
  • A fixed-lease term ended.

Other Pennsylvania Templates and Forms

Read About Residential Lease Agreements in Other States

Colorado

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho

Iowa

New York

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