Struggles of Being a Landlord in Philadelphia

As a landlord, you have many responsibilities. You must provide the best property to tenants, be fair and comply with the lease terms, fix broken appliances, and hear tenant complaints. You also must collect rent and enforce late fees. In Philadelphia, numerous laws protect landlords. Read on to learn more about the everyday struggles landlords face. And remember that you’re not alone – many other landlords in Philadelphia have to face similar challenges.

Housing Quality Violations

In Philadelphia, nearly one out of every four rental properties are owned by a corporate entity, limiting tenants’ rights to hold landlords accountable for housing quality violations. However, a law center is developing a new organizational model to empower tenants to fight for better housing conditions. Landlords were looking to “sell my house fast Philadelphia” during the pandemic, resulting in a significant increase in homelessness.

Small Fraction of Landlords

Despite these statistics, it’s clear that Philadelphia landlords are feeling the pinch. Approximately 15 percent of landlords are unable to obtain a rental license. It means that there is a lack of resources for prosecution. Moreover, despite the law’s mandated penalties, only a tiny fraction of landlords in Philadelphia have a rental license. Further, many landlords in Philadelphia speak a foreign language and aren’t always available, causing a communication barrier between tenants and landlords.

Strong Predictor of HOLC Maps

 Another area experiencing a high rent burden is historically Black neighborhoods. In the 1940s, the racial composition was a strong predictor of HOLC maps. Consequently, many communities were designated as “high-risk” or “hazardous” due to their large percentage of Black residents. Over the years, these neighborhoods became deprived of resources and neglected, creating an inhospitable cycle. This is a symptom of a more significant problem facing landlords in Philadelphia.

Another problem faced by landlords in Philadelphia is evictions. According to the Philadelphia Code, evictions are prohibited without good cause. If a tenant is locked out of a property, they should call 911 immediately to report the issue. Additionally, tenants need to show proof of residency to avoid facing eviction. Lastly, landlords should never raise their rent without good cause. These are just a few of the problems that landlords in Philadelphia face, but other issues need to be addressed.

Free Legal Assistance

Keeping on the legal side of your tenant’s rights is crucial for keeping on the right side of the law as a landlord in Philadelphia. For example, Philadelphia’s new lead paint law bans landlords from evicting tenants for not paying rent on time. However, this law isn’t enforced unless tenants know about it. In addition, Philadelphia’s right to counsel law provides free legal assistance for tenants in eviction proceedings.

In Philadelphia, 82% of rental properties are single-family structures, making it difficult to tell which one is a tenant. In addition, most leases are year-long and, therefore, are indistinguishable from owner-occupied residences. Moreover, landlords must purchase annual licenses that cost $56, which do not include inspections. Sadly, some landlords don’t even register their properties, making it difficult to determine if a property is registered or unregistered.

Lower Rents & Deferred Maintenance

Regulatory enforcement agencies in other cities are trying to enforce these laws. Several landlords in Philadelphia say they’re doing their best to ensure their units are up to code. They point to a report by Pew Research Center that cites three factors for landlords’ efforts to make their properties safer. These factors include the likelihood of enforcement by regulators and the market’s demand for substandard units. However, landlords in Philadelphia are often underpaid for maintenance, leading to lower rents and deferred maintenance.

Landlords & Avoid Eviction

When it comes to evictions, you need to prepare yourself. The Philadelphia City Council recently passed a bill that will give tenants the right to hire an attorney to represent them in court. While it will not eliminate the need for a lawyer, it will undoubtedly help you understand the process better. In Philadelphia, landlords are often considered adversaries by tenants. This legislation aims to help tenants resolve their conflicts with landlords and avoid eviction.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled this year that landlords in Philadelphia must be involved in an eviction diversion program before they can evict tenants. Evictions disproportionately affect Black women with children and are a major cause of homelessness. However, the city has a strong eviction prevention program to protect tenants and landlords. Since the City Council’s Eviction Diversion Program is effective, it should be permanent.

The new rental assistance program has a long backlog. Once the backlog is cleared, a new queue will form for evictions. In addition, a booming addition, a housing market adds to challenges for landlords. Landlords may have to raise rents or force tenants to move elsewhere.

Federal Rental Assistance

In Philadelphia, the courts have extended the Eviction Diversion Program until June 30. Most landlords were hesitant to participate, but many walked away satisfied with the program. However, the city council made participation a requirement for landlords facing COVID-19-related financial difficulty. By requiring participation in the Eviction Diversion Program, landlords will be better prepared for evictions and can properly distribute federal rental assistance.

Small landlords in Philadelphia own several properties, but he’s never experienced significant income loss. They do not evict, but one did apply for rental assistance and was approved. This is a good sign because they’re more likely to communicate and build a rapport with their landlords. However, there are downsides to owning a small rental portfolio.

Employment Status

If you’re self-employed, landlords may ask for a copy of your last year’s tax return to prove your income. While 1040 shows what you earned in the previous year, landlords will often want to see more documentation to verify your employment status. For example, you may indicate a severance statement that shows how much you made when you were laid off from your previous employer.

If you’re new to the area and have already landed a job, a landlord may ask for a letter from your previous employer stating that you’ve been employed at the company for six months or more. If you’re a recent new hire, you may also ask your employer to write a letter describing your new status as a new employee. Many apartment communities will accept letters of recommendation. But even if you’re a newbie, a landlord will want a lease that will be renewed.

Property Maintenance Worth

Many landlords in Philadelphia have multiple rental properties. While it’s a good idea to have rental properties, it’s often more complicated than it seems. Usually, a landlord will sacrifice their personal life to pursue this endeavor and may not even get paid. However, the money earned from renting out an apartment will make the time spent on property maintenance worth it. When you can find a tenant, you can use the rental income to help you pay the rent.


The city of Philadelphia is making it easier for landlords to avoid the dreaded eviction process, and it’s doing this with the help of an innovative program called Eviction Diversion. Under the program, landlords must attend mediation sessions with tenants and wait 45 days before filing an eviction complaint. In addition, Philadelphia is taking steps to combat this crisis with the help of government resources, including rental assistance programs.


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