A Pennsylvania Lease or Rental Application is a form used by Pennsylvania landlords to screen and vet potential tenants to determine whether they are reliable and able to pay rent in a timely manner.
A standard Rental/Lease Application provides a landlord with the opportunity to screen for any red flags a tenant may raise, ranging from credit history to past employment references.
Pennsylvania Rental Application Statistic/Specifics
According to the 2020 Pennsylvania Human Relations Annual Report, Pennsylvania docketed 1646 cases of discrimination, with more than 200 of those being housing discrimination cases.
Pennsylvania imposes/requires unique requirements on landlords screening potential/future tenants and tenants rights under the screening process. For example, Pennsylvania Statutes provides for the following:
The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act filled in a gap left by federal law by defining housing discrimination as when a landlord refuses to rent to a tenant on the basis of age (over 40).
Records of Deposit Withholdings
Pennsylvania landlords are not required to keep records of deposit withholdings.
In cases of handicapped tenants, a landlord may not refuse to permit reasonable modifications to the premises.
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for anyone to threaten, coerce, intimidate, or interfere with any person exercising a fair housing right or helping others exercise their rights.
There is no Pennsylvania statute mandating application fees for a tenant, or prohibiting non-refundable application fees.
Timeframe to File Complaint
A tenant must file their housing discrimination claim within 180 days of the discriminatory act.
After the filing of a tenant complaint, the tenant will be assigned a docket number within thirty (30) days of the date of docketing, and the respondent (landlord) must answer your complaint within sixty (60) days of the date of service. If your complaint has not been resolved within one (1) year, you may commence an action in the Court of Common Pleas or in the Commonwealth Court.
For tenants who have been arrested and convicted of second or third-degree misdemeanors, have completed their punishment, and have had no arrests or prosecutions within the last year, Pennsylvania Law allows them to petition the courts for an order of limited access to information.
A building with a no pets policy must make accommodations for and allow a visually impaired tenant to keep a guide dog.
All states are mandated by the federal Fair Housing Act, which provides protection for all renters and buyers from landlord and seller discrimination. The Fair Housing Act protects against discrimination based on:
- National origin
- Color of skin
- Familial status
Landlords are permitted to search for specific objective criteria to better screen and vet tenants. Doing so allows landlords to determine whether the tenant(s) are fit to pay rent in a timely and trustworthy manner. Landlords may screen future tenants by inquiring about the following:
- Past employer’s contact information and references
- Tenant eviction history and past landlords
- Credit history and proof of ability to pay rent
- Criminal history
- Sex offender registry
- Salary specifics
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA) and the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act provides protection for tenants from landlord and renter inquiry into credit. Both acts require the following action by landlords:
Written, oral, or electronic notice of any unfavorable action taken by a landlord after receiving and reviewing a tenant screening report.
Consumer Report Details
The name, address, and the number of the consumer reporting agency that issued the credit report to the landlord. The landlord is also required to disclose the tenant’s credit score and information (score factors, score date, score range) for the applicant to see.
Copy and Opportunity to Dispute
The tenant must be provided a copy of the screening report and given an opportunity to dispute the accuracy and completeness.