Certificate of Rental Suitability in Philadelphia

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The main purpose of the certificate is to ensure that, as a landlord, you are in compliance with the Philadelphia Property Maintenance Code.

Landlord-tenant laws in Philadelphia can be very confusing for both parties. As a landlord, obtaining your Rental License is the first big, necessary step, but it doesn’t end there. Your next step should be to acquire a Certificate of Rental Suitability. The main purpose of the Certificate of Rental Suitability is to ensure that, as a landlord, you are in compliance with the Philadelphia Property Maintenance Code.

What is the Certificate of Rental Suitability?

In February 2006, the City of Philadelphia issued a new law that requires a landlord to certify that a rental unit is hospitable for living.  It also allows the City to ensure that a landlord has purchased the landlord’s Commercial Activity License and Rental License. While obtaining the Certificate of Rental Suitability is free of charge, many landlords overlook this step, which can cause headaches down the road. By law, landlords must provide the certificate and the City’s Partners for Good Housing handbook to the tenants at the inception of the tenancy.   

A Certificate of Rental Suitability requires the landlord to certify the 3 following things:

  • That there are no open code violations on the rental unit
  • That the rental unit has the required fire protection and smoke detection equipment
  • That the landlord has provided the tenant with the City’s Partners for Good Housing handbook

Unlike many other certifications and licenses issued by the City, no inspections of the property are performed by the City in connection with the issuance of the Certificate of Rental Suitability, and the landlord is otherwise not obligated to retain duly licensed professionals to validate the condition of the leased premises prior to its issuance. Rather, the Certificate of Rental Suitability merely contains self-serving statements made by the landlord concerning the condition of the leased premises and the landlord’s obligations to the tenant under the law.

Recently, there appears to be a movement by courts in Philadelphia to prevent a landlord from collecting rent and obtaining possession of leased premises even after a tenant defaults under the lease agreement if the landlord fails to obtain this self-serving Certificate of Rental Suitability and illustrate proof that the certificate and the City’s Partners for Good Housing handbook were delivered to the tenant. We, therefore, strongly recommend that, if you are a landlord leasing residential property in the City, you obtain the Certificate of Rental Suitability and deliver it (along with the City’s Partners for Good Housing handbook) to your tenants, in order to prevent any of them from being able to make this legal argument.

At Nochumson P.C., we are more than legal counsel. We are people serving our neighbors and community in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Knowing that real communication between real people can help lead to real positive results, our team of attorneys is available 24/7 to help answer your legal questions and to fight for you with skill and fortitude, whatever the case may be. When you hire us, you can expect a sensible and cost-effective approach to legal counsel. We think fast, think ahead, and get things done. Contact us today or call us at (215) 399-1346 to see how we can represent you.

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