Pennsylvania Security Deposit Laws

In Pennsylvania, security deposits can equal two months’ rent for the first year and one month’s rent for the following years.
Written by Payton Ternus
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Civil Code allows landlords to charge tenants for a security deposit equal to two months’ rent for the first year of renting and a deposit equal to one month’s rent for the following years. When your lease ends and you return your keys, your landlord must return the deposit within 30 days.
One of the most annoying parts of renting an apartment is putting down a security deposit—it’s a sizable upfront expense, and it can feel almost impossible to get your money back. Laws regarding security deposits are different from state to state, so it can be difficult to know what rights you have as a tenant.
Before you put down any deposits, it’s in your best interest to brush up on your state’s laws. Car and
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What is Pennsylvania law on security deposits?

Security deposits in Pennsylvania need to be non-refundable deposits made by a tenant to show their intent to move into the landlord’s property. When you put down a security deposit, you can typically expect to get your money back when you move out—unless you violate any conditions of your leasing contract.
Statutes Title 1 68 P.S. §§ 250.511b and 250.512 in
Pennsylvania Civil Code
lay out the rules for security deposits, including the maximum amount landlords are permitted to charge.

What is the maximum security deposit a landlord can charge in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania landlords can charge a maximum of two months’ rentas a security deposit for the first year. After the first year, they are only allowed to charge one month’s rent for subsequent years.
Remember that landlords can charge this deposit amount in addition to the first month’s rent. You may need to be prepared to pay as much as three times the regular rent amount when you move into your new place.
Your entire security deposit must be refundable. If your landlord charges you for a security deposit and tries to claim it isn’t refundable, use extreme caution moving forward—or reach out to a lawyer.

How long does a landlord have to return a security deposit in Pennsylvania?

When your lease ends, you’ve moved all of your belongings out of the rental unit, and the keys are returned, your landlord is required to return your security deposit within 30 days. This time period gives your landlord enough time to inspect the home after you leave and ensure you held up your end of your contract.

What can a landlord withhold a security deposit for in Pennsylvania?

Security deposits can’t be automatically non-refundable, but landlords are legally allowed to keep all or part of your deposit to cover the following:
  • Cleaning costs to return the apartment to its original state before you moved in
  • Damage past the normal wear and tear
  • Unpaid rent
What is considered to be “damage beyond normal wear and tear”? Unfortunately, this isn’t a black and white issue, but generally speaking, this refers to damages that could normally be avoided while living in a rented space. This includes damage that occurred as a result of neglect or irresponsible use—you’ll be on the hook if you forget to mention a leaky faucet.
Your landlord is required to send you a complete itemized list of deductions if they choose to withhold any amount from your security deposit—they can’t keep your money without providing a specific reason why.
Key Takeaway All security deposits paid by Pennsylvania tenants must be refundable, but landlords can keep all or part of the deposit if you miss a rent payment or damage their property.

How to get your security deposit back in Pennsylvania

Say you moved out of your old apartment over a month ago, but you still haven’t gotten your security deposit back. How can you make sure you’ll get your money back from your old landlord?
The first step you’ll want to take is to contact your landlord directly and ask for the security deposit back in writing. It’s entirely possible there was an honest mistake, like a mixup with your new address or it just slipped their mind. Making a clear request could help in a quick refund of your money.
Now if your landlord is refusing to return your security deposit without an explanation or you believe it is being wrongfully withheld, you have the option of going to small claims court. Legal proceedings can be complicated and stressful, but it might be worth it if you made a particularly large security deposit.

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No, you’ll have to pay your last month’s rent like usual and collect your deposit when your lease ends.
No, landlords are not permitted to charge you for a routine carpet cleaning or use your security deposit to cover it. You can only be charged for carpet cleaning if you damaged the carpet past normal wear and tear.
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