September 22, 2006

New Law for Philadelphia Landlords

What is the Certificate of Rental Suitability?

In February 2006, the City of Philadelphia issued a new law that requires a landlord to certify that the rental unit is suitable for living.  It is also a way for the City to ensure that a landlord has purchased his/her Business Privilege License and Rental License. 

The law requires that a landlord give the tenant the following documents:

1. Certificate of Rental Suitability (cannot be issued more than 60 days prior to move-in)
2. Owner’s attestation that the unit is suitable for dwelling (attestation is a written, signed, and notarized statement)
3. “City of Philadelphia Partners for Good Housing” Handbook

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September 15, 2006

Why does my landlord want a copy of my gas bill every month?

The reason your landlord wants to see your gas bill is because a new law allows PGW to place a lien on the property if a tenant does not pay the gas bill.  The law allows the lien even if the gas bill in the tenant’s name.  A lien places a cloud (or mark) on the title of the property which diminishes the value of the property.  So your landlord wants to make sure that the bill is paid in full and on time each month.  Otherwise PGW could force the landlord to pay the bill on your behalf. 

I will give you an example of how this works. 

Imagine you own a car and you let your friend borrow it to run some errands.  While your friend was in the grocery store, he got a parking ticket.  Imagine that your friend didn’t pay the ticket and late fines/penalties were added to the original ticket.  Now imagine you are running late for work but your car has a big orange boot on it because of this unpaid parking ticket.  Because you desperately need your car to get to work, you pay the ticket plus the fines and penalties just to get the boot off your car.  You and I know that you did not get that parking ticket, your friend did it.  But the city does not care. 

In this case, the city is like PGW.  PGW does not care who actually resides in the property or whose name is on the gas bill.  PGW just wants its bill paid in full and on time.  So like the city placed a boot on your car to force you to pay an unpaid ticket, PGW will place a lien on the property to force the property owner to pay an unpaid gas bill. 

Don’t misunderstand me, though.  This law does not let you (tenant) off the hook for paying your gas bill.  If you don’t pay the bill, your landlord could sue you to reimburse him/her for the gas payment or the landlord could evict you.

Sharmil McKee


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