Rent Increase Mandatory Tenant Notice (60 Days)

Rent Increase Mandatory Tenant Notice (60 Days)       Updated 02/15/2016

Posted on December 21, 2015

The Philadelphia City Council has enacted a new law mandating notice to tenants before rent can be increased. The provisions of the law apply only in the City of Philadelphia. The Law require owners to provide tenants on a year-to-year lease with at least 60 days’ notice of a rent increase. Longer notice can be provided if the owner so desires. Month-to-month leases require 30 days’ notice before the rent can be increased. The law requires that tenants must respond with their intention to vacate the property or renew the lease within 30 days of receiving the notice. The bill was introduced by the recently reelected Philadelphia Councilman at large William Greenlee. 

If an owner desires 60 days’ advance notice of a tenant’s intention to stay or leave, then the notice of proposed rent increase will need to be provided at least 90 days prior to the end of the lease term. If an owner is satisfied to know one month before the termination of the lease if the tenant will be leaving or remaining, 60 days’ notice can be provided, which will require the tenants to respond within the following 30 days as to their intentions. 

The provisions of the law apply only to notice of a rent increase. An owner where the rent is not being increased is still free to negotiate in the lease agreement the required notice of renewal or nonrenewal, or otherwise provide notice of lease termination in accordance with the lease. 

The 60 days’ notice to be provided to the tenant must include (i) the amount of the rent increase; (ii) the effective date of the rent increase; and (iii) the new payment amount. The notice must be provided in writing, by hand delivery or by first class United States mail with proof of mailing. Certified mail, or proof of receipt by the tenant, is not required. While certified mail is certainly permissible, and perhaps sensible, acceptable and less expensive proof of mailing is United States Postal Service form 3817, “Certificate of Mailing”. The response notice by the tenant is likewise to be provided by a similar Certificate of Mailing or other proof. 

The law applies to any residential lease that is executed or renewed after the effective date of the ordinance. As of press time of this edition of the HAPCO newsletter, the mayor had not yet signed the Bill so the precise effective date is not yet known. It is a certainty, however, that the bill will become law shortly, and it would be appropriate to commence implementation of the notice requirement starting in calendar year 2016. The law does not apply to any property under the jurisdiction of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

HAPCO members and all owners of property are urged to pay strict attention to the new enactment, as failure to comply could well result in the refusal of landlord-tenant court to enforce a rent increase, without proof of the notice in timely fashion as provided by the law. 

HAPCO vocalized several concerns to the City Council during the enactment process. Initially, the basic legislative findings of the law, set forth below, evidence a concern for owner occupants, while rental properties are not accorded the same concern by the city. HAPCO pointed out that the increasing enactments by the city granting significant tax relief to owner occupants, but refusing to provide similar tax relief to owners of rental property, in fact works to the detriment of tenants. Provision of tax abatements and reductions for owner occupants simply increases the taxes due by everyone else, and ultimately increases the taxes for owners of rental property, and increases the rent as a sure consequence. A fair distribution of tax relief and abatements to all owners of property in a uniform fashion would be of as much benefit to tenants as landlords. Certain tenants’ rights organizations with which HAPCO regularly interfaces have agreed on this basic proposition, and activity to secure fair tax relief as a joint landlord-tenant venture is under discussion. 

A further objection to the Bill related to the general proposition that the City of Philadelphia, merely one municipal government amidst many thousands across the state, should not be able to implement a patchwork of laws impacting landlord-tenant relations. The more appropriate entity for enactment of such legislation is the legislature of the State of Pennsylvania, through amendments to the Landlord and Tenant Act, and not by a patchwork of local ordinances mandating different notice requirements in adjoining municipalities. 

A further HAPCO objection related to the imposition by government of restrictions on the freedom of contract between landlords and tenants; government interference with the rights of a landlord and tenant to negotiate the terms of a lease, including notice provisions, are impinged when the government steps in to mandate what private contracts should say. 

The law unanimously passed the City Council. 

Legislative Findings of the Philadelphia City Council: 

WHEREAS, Property values in several areas of the City have been rising regularly due to increased construction and renovation that has been spurred by a renewed interest in city living; and 

WHEREAS, As a result of this increase in property values, there have been substantial increases in the real estate taxes due on these properties; and 

WHEREAS, Some real estate tax relief has been provided to owner-occupants through the Homestead Exclusion and to eligible longtime owner-occupants through the Longtime Owner Occupants Program (“LOOP”); and 

WHEREAS, Similar relief is not available to tenants; yet landlords often will pass along any increase in real estate taxes, which could be substantial, to their tenants through a rent increase; and 

WHEREAS, There currently is no requirement that landlords provide reasonable notice of a rent increase to tenants; and 

WHEREAS, Reasonable notice of rent increases would provide tenants with ample time to adjust finances in order to pay any increase in rent or to relocate; and 

WHEREAS, Similarly, there is no requirement that a tenant provide reasonable notice to a landlord that the tenant will not renew a lease at the end of the lease term; and 

WHEREAS, Reasonable notice by the tenant to the landlord regarding the non-renewal of a lease would provide the landlord with time to find a new tenant and would reduce the risk of the property remaining vacant until a new tenant is able to be found; now, therefore 


SECTION 1. Chapter 9-800 of The Philadelphia Code is hereby amended to read as follows: 


§ 9-804. Unfair Rental Practices. 


Extracted from an article by Darrell M. Zaslow, Esq. in the December 2015 issue of the HAPCO Newsletter