Man's Hand Finger Pointing to The Cracked Wall in House

Landlord Repair and Maintenance Requirements

Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys At Law, P.C. Feb. 21, 2023

Inflation is all over the news and affecting the pocketbooks of Americans across the nation. When it comes to renting, inflation was up 7.5 percent in December 2022, the highest level since 1982. What is probably little known is that rent inflation comprises 32 percent of the consumer price index (CPI) released each month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  

A one-bedroom apartment in Pittsburgh now runs at least $1,400 a month in rent payments. Landlords and tenants have rights and obligations under both federal and state legislation. What if you rent a unit for a payment you can barely afford, and after moving in, something goes wrong – your heat quits working, the shower head spews water everywhere, or an appliance stops working? What is the landlord’s obligation?  

Pennsylvania landlord-rental laws definitely protect a lessee or renter from being subjected to a residence that is uninhabitable. If you are being subjected to a rental unit that is not up to livable conditions and your landlord is not responding in or around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, contact Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C., for reliable legal guidance. I will review the circumstances and advise you of your legal options and then represent you in the dispute resolution.  

My firm, Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C., also proudly serves clients throughout Allegheny County and all of the surrounding counties, including Butler, Westmoreland, Beaver, Armstrong, and Washington, Pennsylvania. 

What Repairs Are Landlords Required to Make? 

Under Pennsylvania law, a renter or lessee is entitled to a safe and habitable residence. This standard means that you, as the renter or lessee, are entitled to, among other conditions: working smoke alarms; a working heating system; hot water; drinking water; adequate waste disposal and sewage; a roof that does not leak; freedom from insect or rodent infestation; functioning and lockable doors and windows; and functioning bathroom(s).   

Generally, a rental will also include a kitchen area with at least a means to cook, such as a stove. Landlords may require the renter to supply their own refrigerator or other appliances. Whatever is installed and provided for in the initial rent or lease agreement is the responsibility of the landlord. So if a stove quits working, the landlord is responsible for repairing it. The same goes for the basic systems mentioned above; they are the landlord’s responsibility. 

Tenant’s Right to Quiet Enjoyment 

Another Pennsylvania law guarantees tenants the right to quiet enjoyment. This extends to a landlord’s attempt to enter your unit or residence. They cannot simply show up and demand to be let in. Instead, an advance notice must be given, generally at least 24 hours. Of course, if there is an emergency such as flooding or fire, the threat overwhelms the requirement for advance notice. 

Landlord’s Response Time to Repair Requests 

If something quits working in your unit that affects your livability, you must report it to your landlord for repair or replacement. The landlord must then be given “reasonable time” to respond, but nothing in the law ever defines reasonable time. 

What If Repairs Are Not Made? 

If the landlord doesn’t respond to your request to fix a defect, you do have legal options, but in landlord-friendly Pennsylvania, be aware that the landlord may try to retaliate, even try to evict you even though retaliation is illegal. So you should seek legal guidance before taking steps like withholding rent or making the repairs on your own and withholding the cost from your monthly payment, which is legal under Pennsylvania law.  

Generally speaking, to withhold rent, partially or fully, until a defect is corrected is only possible if you get a housing inspector to declare the residence uninhabitable. You can also choose to end the lease and move out if. Again, however, you must provide proof that the unit is uninhabitable, and thus the lease or rental agreement is no longer valid. 

Speak with an Experienced Attorney 

If you find yourself in a unit or home that has suddenly become uninhabitable because of problems with the basic functionalities and the landlord refuses to respond, contact Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C., for legal guidance. I will review the situation with you and advise you of best how to proceed. I will also protect your rights under Pennsylvania’s landlord-tenant laws. Reach out immediately.