On or about February 23, 2006, City Council amended the Property Maintenance Code requiring residential Landlords to have a Certificate of Rental Suitability. The applicable code section is PM-102.6.4 and reads in relevant part,
” At the inception of each tenancy, an owner shall [issue] provide to the tenant a…. Certificate of Rental Suitability issued by the Department no more than sixty(60} days prior to the inception of the tenancy along with a copy of the owner’s attestation to the suitability of the dwelling unit as received by the department and a copy of the ” City of Philadelphia Partners for Good Housing Handbook…”
Philadelphia Landlords who fail to provide their tenants with a properly executed Certificate of Rental Suitability and Partners for Good Housing Handbook cannot collect rent during the period of non compliance.
Once the Landlord complies with PM -102.6.4, ongoing rent can be collected, but once again, No rent can be collected during the period of non-compliance.
Many Landlord and tenant cases are filed in Philadelphia Municipal Court.
Beginning January, 2018, when residential Landlords file eviction complaints in Municipal Court, they must certify that they have Certificates of Rental Suitability and attach a copy to their Landlord and Tenant Complaints. Failure to comply means the court may not accept the Landlord’s complaint for filing with the Court or Court personnel will attach a document to the Landlord’s complaint stating that the Landlord has not complied with the Certificate of Rental Suitability requirement.
Thereafter, the Landlord would have to appear before a Municipal Court Judge at the Landlord and Tenant hearing and prove that a Certificate of Rental Suitability and Partners for Good Housing Handbook were issued to the tenant.
Residential Landlords may have additional questions regarding Certificates of Rental Suitability including:
1. Said Certificates may be obtained in person at the Department of licenses and Inspections, Certifications Unit, Public Services Concourse, Municipal Services Building, 1401John F. Kennedy Boulevard, Philadelphia, Pa.
Said Certificates can also be obtained online. Google www.phila.gov. After accessing the cover page, click on … ” Rental Suitability.”
2. Certificates must be signed and dated by the Landlord, Owner and given to the tenant along with a copy of the Partners for Good Housing Handbook. Tenants are not required to sign the
Certificate, but you may ask them to sign the Certificate upon receipt. That may help if there is a dispute as to whether the tenant received the Certificate and Partners for Good Housing Handbook.
3. Certain landlords may apply for a Certificate of Rental Suitability, but be denied. If that occurs, go to the Certifications Unit, Public Services Concourse, Municipal Service Building, 1401John
F. Kennedy Boulevard, Philadelphia, Pa. That office can advise as to why the Certification application was denied. Once the Landlord corrects the problems raised by the City, they will issue a Certification of Compliance. Thereafter, the Landlord should be able to obtain the Certificate of Rental Suitability.
4. Certain tenants may try to sue for a rental refund during the time the Landlord did not have a valid Certificate of Rental Suitability. If that occurs, kindly review Goldstein v. Weiner, a decision of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
Arthur R. Panza, Esquire
• Arthur R. Panza, Esquire has practiced Landlord and Tenant law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for 36 years and 25 years respectively.
Arthur R. Panza
Attorney at Law
228 Kings Highway East Haddonfield, NJ 08033 Panza6@msn.com
Member: Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bars
NJ Tel: (856) 428-2121
Fax: (856) 216-9035
PA Tel: (215) 923-3079