Friday, March 12, 2010

Security deposit disputes and forwarding addresses under Pennsylvania Landlord-Tenant law; Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951; 68 P.S. 250.512(e).

In a previous post, I pointed out that many landlords fall into a trap by failing to send a letter itemizing damages within thirty days of a tenant vacating the premises.

Many landlords fail to send the "thirty day letter" because the tenant does not provide a forwarding address. The statute does require the tenant to provide a forwarding address in writing and relieves the landlord of all liability in the absence of such a written forwarding address. 68 P.S. 250.512(e).

Regardless of the above statute, the tenant will lie about having provided a forwarding address and may even backdate a letter for use in court. Courts often believe a tenant when there is a dispute over whether or when a letter was sent.

Most importantly, this issue is so easy to avoid. If the landlord does not have a forwarding address, the landlord should mail the thirty day letter to the rental unit in question via certified mail. If the former tenant fails to sign for the mailing, the landlord will have proof, in the form of the returned mail with the "refused" stamp from the post office, that the tenant left no forwarding address and resisted the landlord's attempts to comply with the statute. While this action goes beyond the requirements of the statute, it would preclude a tenant from succeeding on a falsified claim of having provided a forwarding address.

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