Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant security deposit disputes; forwarding address; damage estimates; Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant Act.

For landlords, the question of what to do with a departing tenant's security deposit might seem minor, but can create unnecessary headaches and expenses.

If you have reason to keep ANY of the deposit, make sure you provide a list of damages to the tenant as soon as he moves out (or as soon as you THINK he might have moved out). Be as cautious as you can. Even though the Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant Act gives you thirty days and requires the tenant to provide a forwarding address, play it safe and send your letter without waiting. Do not use the following excuses:
  • The tenant did not provide a forwarding address.
  • It took longer than 30 days to get an estimate of the damage.
  • The tenant said that the landlord could wait longer than 30 days.
  • The tenant did not give me a key.
  • I thought that the tenant was gone, but he did not provide "official" notice.
  • The constable said I did not have to send a letter.

In future posts, I will debunk each of these reasons. Remember that courts often are sympathetic to a tenant even though the tenant is lying. Courts often disregard statutory time limitations where such limitations harm a tenant, but will strictly enforce such time limits against a landlord.

It is easy to win a security deposit dispute if you follow a few simple guidelines. Treat every security deposit dispute as if a court will eventually resolve all doubt in favor of the tenant, and you should avoid serious expense and inconvenience.

Update - click here for more detail on dealing with the lack of a forwarding address and 68 P.S. 250.512(e).
Update - click here for more detail on dealing with delays in assembling contractor estimates.
Update - click here for more detail on situations where the tenant agrees to give the landlord more than thirty (30) days.


  1. How long does a tenant in Monroe County Pa have to file a claim in the Magistrate's court to recover that portion of the security deposit held back by landlord for reason of damage to leasehold due to tenant's negligence?