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§ 9-804. Unfair Rental Practices. 985
(1) Whenever any premises are found in violation of any provision of The Philadelphia Code and a notice of violation has been issued by any department or agency of the City, it shall be unlawful for any owner, landlord, agent or other person operating or managing such premises to:
(a) terminate the lease with the existing tenant unless the tenant has failed to pay rent, committed a nuisance, committed waste or caused the premises to have been in such violation under The Philadelphia Code;
(b) offer, tender, give, exchange or transfer possession or the right to possession to any person not in possession of the premises upon any terms or conditions until the violation has been corrected; or
(c) make, alter, amend or modify any term or condition of any existing lease or arrangement of tenancy with any person in possession of the premises at the time notice of violation is issued until the violation has been corrected;
(d) make, alter, amend or modify any term or condition of any existing lease or arrangement of tenancy with any tenant for a period of one year after correction of any violations where the action against the tenant is intended to collect the cost or value of making any or all of the corrections necessary to comply with The Philadelphia Code and where also any violation has remained uncorrected, whether or not recorded by the Department of Licenses and Inspections, for a period of one year or more prior to the date of correction. The burden shall be on the landlord to show that the violation has not existed uncorrected for a period of one year or more prior to the date of correction in any legal proceeding in which the provisions of this ordinance shall be relevant.
(2) 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. For purposes of this subsection (2)(d) the meaning of the terms "victim", "domestic violence" and "sexual assault" are as defined in Section 9-3201 of this Code. 986
In any civil proceeding involving this provision in which the notice of termination or alteration of a term or condition of the lease was given within one year after a violation was found, a right of the tenant against the landlord, agent or other person operating or managing premises was exercised, or a correction made, whichever is the latest, it shall be the burden of the owner, landlord, agent or other person operating or managing such premises to prove that the notice was not given in retaliation for the exercise by the tenant of his legal rights.
(3) The provisions of this Section shall not apply to:
(a) Any bona fide transfer of title incident to a sale of the premises, but any subsequent owner, landlord, agent or other person operating or managing such premises shall be subject to the provisions of this Chapter.
(b) Any owner, landlord or agent or other person operating or managing any premises against which a notice of violation has been issued who desires to terminate an existing occupancy in order that the premises may be rehabilitated and the violation cured, and the Department of Licenses and Inspections issues a certification that such work requires that the premises be vacated.
(4) No owner, landlord, agent or other person operating or managing any premises shall unlawfully retain any security deposit, however styled in a lease.
(5) No owner, landlord, agent or other person operating or managing any premises shall accept any rental payment under any written lease on the premises until he has given a fully executed copy of the lease to all the parties to the lease.
(6) The owner, landlord, agent or other person operating or managing the premises shall, at the request of a tenant who is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, permit the tenant to terminate the lease regardless of the lease term and without penalty for early termination provided: 987
(a) the request is made, in writing, within ninety (90) days of (i) the reporting of an incident of domestic violence or sexual assault, (ii) the issuance of a protection from abuse order or (iii) the approval of a consent agreement, and at least thirty (30) days before the requested termination date;
(b) the victim vacates the premises no later than the early termination date; and
(c) at the time the request is made for termination of the lease, the tenant provides:
(.1) a court order or approved consent agreement for protection from abuse pursuant to the Protection from Abuse Act, Act of December 19, 1990, P.L. 1240, No. 206, § 2 (23 Pa. C.S. §§ 6101 et seq.);
(.2) an incident report from the Police Department stating that a domestic abuse or sexual assault complaint was filed by the tenant; or
(.3) written certification from a health care professional or professional guidance counselor, licensed under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, or a victim's services organization, as defined in Section 9-3201 of this Code, stating that the tenant sought assistance as a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault.
(7) If the abuser or perpetrator of the domestic violence or sexual assault is a cotenant, the owner, landlord, agent or other person operating or managing the premises may, upon the victim's request, bifurcate the lease in order to evict the abuser or perpetrator of the domestic violence or sexual assault, while allowing the victim to remain in the premises provided the victim's request complies with (6)(a) and (c) of this Section. 988
The provisions of subsections (6) and (7) shall be implied in all leases and made a written term in all leases reduced to writing for any lease executed or renewed after the effective date of this Section.
(8) All terms and conditions of the lease remain in effect until the date of termination or bifurcation. If any tenant wishes to inhabit the leased premises after early termination or bifurcation, a new lease with the landlord must be executed. 989
(9) Nothing in subsection (6) or (7) limits the authority of the landlord, owner, agent or other person operating or managing the premises to evict a tenant, who is the victim of domestic or sexual violence, for any violation of a lease other than one premised on the act or acts of violence in question against such tenant, provided that, in determining whether to evict, the landlord, owner, agent or other person operating or managing the premises does not apply a more demanding standard, than that applied to other tenants who are not victims of domestic or sexual violence. 990
(10) Nothing in subsection (6) or (7) changes the authority of any court to evict an abuser under the Pennsylvania Protection from Abuse Act, Act of December 19, 1990, P.L. 1240, No. 206, § 2 (23 Pa. C.S. §§ 6101 et seq.). 991
(11) Notice Requirement. 992
(a) Landlord Notice to Tenant of Rent Increase. Unless the lease provides a longer period of time for the landlord to notify the tenant that the tenant's rent will be increased at the end of a residential tenancy, the following notice requirements shall apply: At least 60 days prior to the effective date of a rent increase where a residential tenancy is one year or more, and at least 30 days prior to the effective date of a rent increase where a residential tenancy is less than one year, the landlord shall notify the tenant of the following: (i) the amount of the rent increase; (ii) the effective date of the rent increase; and (iii) the new payment amount. The landlord shall provide such notice, in writing, by hand delivery or by first class United States mail with proof of mailing.
(b) Tenant Notice to Landlord of Non-Renewal of Lease. For any residential tenancy of one year or more, if the tenant has received timely notice of a rent increase under subsection (11)(a), and if the tenant will not renew the lease at the end of the lease term, the tenant shall notify the landlord of the non-renewal, within 30 days after receiving notice of a rent increase. The tenant shall provide such notice, in writing, by hand delivery or by first class United States mail with proof of mailing.
This subsection (11) shall not apply to any property under the jurisdiction of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
(c) The provisions of this subsection (11) shall apply to any residential lease that is executed or renewed after the effective date of this subsection.
(12) Good cause required. 993
(a) No owner, landlord, agent or other person operating or managing any residential premises, upon expiration of a lease of less than one year, shall issue a notice to vacate, notice of non-renewal, or notice to terminate the lease, unless (1) the landlord has good cause not to renew the lease; and (2) the landlord provides the tenant with notice pursuant to subsection (c), below. For purposes of this subsection (12)(a), good cause shall include, but is not limited to, any of the following:
(.1) Habitual non-payment or habitual late payment of rent by the tenant.
(.2) Breach of or non-compliance with a material term of the tenant's lease or rental agreement.
(.3) The tenant engages in nuisance activity that creates a substantial interference with the use, comfort or enjoyment of the property by the landlord or other tenants in the building; or that substantially affects the health or safety of the landlord or other tenants in the building.
(.4) The tenant causes substantial deterioration of the property beyond normal wear and tear.
(.5) The tenant, after written notice to cease, refuses the landlord access to the unit for lawful purposes, such as to make repairs or assess the need for repairs, to inspect the premises for damages, to show the premises to insurance or mortgage companies, or during an emergency.
(.6) The tenant refuses to execute an extension of a written lease, that is set to expire, for materially the same terms.
(.7) The owner of the premises or a member of the owner's immediate family is going to move into the unit.
(.8) The tenant refuses to agree to a proposed rent increase or other proposed changes to a lease (for example, a new no-pets policy, the elimination of parking, or charging more for utilities), but only if the following conditions have been met:
(.a) The landlord has provided the tenant with the option to accept the proposed rent increase or proposed other change to the lease. The option shall be included in the notice required by subsection (11)(a) ("Landlord Notice to Tenant of Rent Increase") or, if no notice is required by subsection (11)(a), in a notice provided to the tenant that comports with subsection (11)(a).
(.b) The tenant must accept the option no later than fifteen (15) days prior to the expiration of the current lease, or else the tenant will be deemed to have declined the option. The tenant must accept the option in writing, by hand delivery or by first class United States mail with proof of mailing; provided that the tenant may accept the option by other means acceptable to the landlord so long as the landlord provides a receipt confirming that the acceptance has been received.
(.c) The landlord intends and reasonably expects to apply the proposed rent increase or proposed change to the next tenant, if the current tenant rejects the proposed terms.
(.9) The owner of the premises will not be renting out the premises during upcoming renovations, but only if the following conditions have been met:
(.a) The owner provides notice of non-renewal of the lease at least 60 days prior to the date the premises must be vacated.
(.b) The owner returns to the tenant any outstanding security deposit as promptly as possible prior to the date of move-out, but in no instance later than provided for by Section 512 of The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951, 68 P.S. § 250.512.
(.c) The owner provides to the tenant the option to renew the tenancy at the market rental rate when the premises become available again for rental, other than for rental to a close family member.
(b) Reserved. 994
(c) A landlord who has good cause to issue a notice to vacate or notice to terminate a lease under subsection (a), above, shall notify the tenant in writing of the basis for such good cause in the same manner and on the same schedule as set forth in subsection (11)(a) ("Landlord Notice to Tenant of Rent Increase"). In the event the owner, landlord, agent or other person operating or managing the premises fails to issue the notice as required by this subsection (12), the lease shall renew on a month-to-month basis, unless the tenant elects otherwise.
(d) A tenant shall have the right to challenge the determination of good cause in a court of competent jurisdiction or by filing a complaint with the Fair Housing Commission, with notice to the landlord, within fifteen (15) business days of the receipt of notice of good cause. The Commission, after investigation and hearing, as it deems appropriate, shall, as promptly as practicable prior to the expiration of the lease, issue such order as it deems appropriate.
(.1) No notice to vacate, notice of non-renewal or notice to terminate a lease shall be effective while a challenge to a determination of good cause is pending before the Commission, unless a court of competent jurisdiction finds that the challenge was filed in bad faith.
(e) Allegations of an owner, landlord, agent or property manager in support of a claim of good cause shall be presumed true if supported by any of the following:
(.1) Time and date stamped video.
(.2) Time and date stamped photographs.
(.3) Police report with reliable information and corroborating police investigation.
(13) Self-Help Eviction. For the purposes of enforcement of Philadelphia Code Chapter 9-1600, Prohibition Against Unlawful Eviction Practices, any action by a landlord, or an agent or any other person on behalf of a landlord, in violation of Section 9-1603 is considered an unfair rental practice under this Section 9-804. 994.1
(14) Any person aggrieved under the provisions of this Section may file a complaint with the Fair Housing Commission or may allege any violations in an initial pleading or, where appropriate, in a responsive pleading in a court of competent jurisdiction. 995
(15) No provision of this Section can be waived or made subject to a contract between the parties depriving a tenant of the benefits of this Section. 996
Added, 1962 Ordinances, p. 89.
Added, Bill No. 140716-A (approved December 1, 2015), effective January 30, 2016.
Added, Bill No. 170854-A (approved January 22, 2019).
Enrolled bill did not include a subsection (b); reserved subsection added at the discretion of the Code editor.
Amended, Bill No. 200304 (approved July 1, 2020).