Tenant's Rights: Unwaivable
A tenant has certain basic rights, whether written into the lease or not. The Landlord Tenant Act of 1951 outlines these basic tenant's rights. Since 1951 there have been certain amendments to the law, such as the "Warranty of Habitability" (1978) and the Philadelphia City Council Ordinance of 1987, making it illegal for a landlord to lock a tenant out, shut off utilities or harass with the intention of evicting without due process. In July 1994 the "Plain Language Contract Act" was enacted. According to this act all residential leases after this date must be written, organized and designed so that they are easy to read and understand by consumers. However, a lease that is easy to understand is not necessarily a fair lease. Since 1995 all residential leases for properties built prior to 1978 must contain a "Lead Paint Disclosure" clause and the landlord must provide you with lead paint EPA information.
Tenant’s Rights: Unwaivable
- right to fair housing (freedom from discrimination because of membership in a protected class);
- right to quiet enjoyment of home;
- right to privacy;
- right to a safe, habitable place (a place conforming to the local housing code standards); the landlord is responsible for all repairs due to normal wear and tear and cannot make the tenant take the unit "as is" ;
- tenant's possessions cannot be seized if tenant breaks promises in the lease;
- the tenant cannot be prohibited from representing himself or herself in court or from suing the landlord;
- the tenant cannot be asked to relieve landlord from all responsibility for damage or physical injury if it can be proved that the property owner/manager was negligent. Both landlord and tenant are responsible for their own negligence.
- Illegal clauses in a lease are not enforceable. If any terms or provisions are determined to be invalid or unenforceable only those provision are struck out and the remainder of the terms and conditions will remain valid. This is called a "severability" clause, If your lease says that the landlord can seize your property for non-payment of rent (distraint), can lock you out of the apartment (self-help), represent you in court (confession of judgment) or that the landlord is not responsible even if the landlord is proved negligent, (disclaimer of liability for negligence) - the landlord will not be able to enforce such clauses and/or ask you to waive certain basic rights.