Mayor Michael Nutter last week signed into law a bill that imposes new requirements on residential landlords in Philadelphia. The bill establishes strict notice requirements that landlords will need to follow regarding rental increases. This new law takes effect on January 30, 2016, and applies to all residential leases executed or renewed after that date. Commercial leases will not be affected.

Bill No. 140716 amends Chapter 9-800 of the Philadelphia Code, titled “Landlord and Tenant—Rent Control.” A landlord’s failure to comply with the bill’s new notice requirements may constitute an “unfair rental practice,” which accordingly risks potential fines by the city’s Fair Housing Commission and other penalties.

Under the new law, landlords must notify their tenants at least 30 or 60 days in advance that rent will increase upon the lease term’s renewal. The exact notice period that applies will depend on the term of the lease. If the lease term is for less than one year, then the notice must be given to the tenant at least 30 days prior to the rental increase. If the lease term is for one year or more, then the notice must be given at least 60 days before the rental increase. A tenant with a lease of one year or more who receives timely notice of the increase and decides not to renew must notify the landlord of such non-renewal no later than 30 days before the current term ends.

To be effective, all notices must be in writing and delivered through specific methods, such as hand delivery. The content of the landlord’s notice to the tenant must contain certain information regarding the details of the rental increase. Importantly, none of the notice requirements under this new law may be waived or diminished in the lease agreement.

Proponents of the bill wished to provide tenants with sufficient time to review rental increases in advance so they could decide whether they could afford to renew their leases. The notice periods are intended to allow tenants an opportunity to relocate if they choose not to renew.

Landlords with residential tenants in Philadelphia should evaluate their current leasing operations to ensure they comply with the new law. Notice delivery methods may need to be changed, and the notice content itself should be re-examined to ensure compliance.

For more information, please contact the authors of this alert, real estate lawyers Matthew N. McClure at 215.864.8771 or McClure@ballardspahr.com, or Ryan Trifelitti at 215.864.8356 or Trifelittir@ballardspahr.com, or the Ballard Spahr attorney with whom you work.


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