Common Landlord Tenant Issues
**If you have an eviction notice, contact Community Legal Services (CLS) as soon as possible at 215-981-3700.
Moving in: When you move into your apartment or house, your landlord should have a rental license. If your landlord does not have a rental license, it is illegal for them to collect rent from you. To find out if your landlord has a rental license, use the city’s Atlas tool and search for your address: https://atlas.phila.gov/.
How to Request Repairs: Your landlord is responsible for providing you with a safe and clean place to live and if they do not do this, you have the right to request repairs and should always request repairs in writing (text, email, or letter).
If your landlord refuses to make the repairs you requested, you can call the Department of Licenses and Inspections (often called L&I) at 311. They will come and inspect your apartment or home for repairs. Your landlord cannot evict you for requesting an inspection. If L&I thinks your apartment or home needs repairs, they will give you a certificate of inspection. You can show the certificate of inspection to your landlord to make clear that repairs are needed. If your landlord still refuses to make repairs and you have given him/her a reasonable amount of time to make those repairs, you can consider withholding rent.
- To legally withhold rent, you need to:
- send a letter to your landlord telling them you are withholding rent
- put the rent in escrow which means placing your rent in a bank account or money order
- More information about withholding rent can be found here: http://www.phillytenant.org/can-i-withhold-rent/
How to Get Your Security Deposit Back: Many renters expect to receive their security deposit back and are confused when their landlord does not return it. Be aware that you can only request your full security deposit after you move out. For more information on how to get your security deposit back: http://www.phillytenant.org/security-deposits/.
Rental Assistance: PLA cannot help you pay rent. But, there are some organizations in the city that offer rental assistance: http://www.phillytenant.org/rental-assistance/.
What to Do When You Have Experienced Housing Discrimination:
If you think you have been discriminated against while renting, buying, selling, or getting a loan for a home, you can file a complaint with the city’s Commission on Human Relations.
- FAQs on housing discrimination: https://www.phila.gov/HumanRelations/DiscriminationAndEnforcement/WhatIsDiscrimination/Pages/HousingAndRealPropertyDiscrimination.aspx.
- Form to start your housing discrimination complaint: https://www.phila.gov/HumanRelations/DiscriminationAndEnforcement/Documents/Property%20Discrimination.pdf.
Housing Subsidies for People Struggling to Afford Rent: It can be difficult to find a rental that is affordable. Low income renters can apply for subsidized housing where the government or an organization pays for part of your rent each month. Common programs include:
- HUD Project-Based Housing (rent based on your income)
- Low Income Housing Tax Credit Housing (rent based on Philadelphia median income)
- Public Housing (rent based on your income)
- Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Housing (rent based on your income)
- Explanation of subsidized housing in Philadelphia: http://www.phillytenant.org/apply-subsidized-housing/.
- List of affordable housing options in Philadelphia: https://affordablehousingonline.com/housing-search/Pennsylvania/Philadelphia.
Recovery House Initiative: The City of Philadelphia runs a housing program for people in outpatient Substance Use Disorder (SUD) programs. Ask your doctor, case manager, or MLCP advocate about a referral to this program.
For other legal issues with your home or rental property, check out the CLS website: https://clsphila.org/services/housing/.
Important Things to Remember:
- Any eviction conducted without a court order is illegal!
- Your landlord cannot legally collect rent from you without a rental license!
Philly Organizations that Help out Tenants:
- Philly Tenant: http://www.phillytenant.org/
- Tenants’ Union Representative Network (TURN): https://rturn.net/