PA Association of Realtors Form Lease. Benefit to use?

13 Replies

I notice a lot of property managers in my area (Philadelphia) use the standard form lease approved by the PA Association of Realtors (PAR). My company uses a personalized lease with many additional terms that address specific issues not covered in the PAR form. Admittedly, our lease is more landlord friendly than the PAR form. It has been reviewed by an attorney.

Other than the simplicity bonus of using the out-of-the-box lease provided by PAR, is there any other reason not to use your own? Does anyone in Pennsylvania have experience with eviction courts ruling more harshly against customized leases? Any discussion or feedback is appreciated.

I last used the PAR lease about 15 years ago. The PAR lease is basically neutral - leasing agent and tenant agent are both real estate agents that PAR serves; and I want a lease that is as lopsided in my favor as I can get away with. YMMV of course ;)

BTW - I am not and have never been a licensed real estate agent; the PAR lease was available for sale to non-licensees too.

@Kevin M. One factor that may or may not affect your decision is that the PAR lease is approved by the Pa State Attorney General Office as being "Plain Language" as defined by the Pa. Law.  This could come into play if a tenant challenges your eviction or other court action and taint your claims by saying your lease was mis-understood and is not "Plain Language" and doesn't comply with State Law.  and as that famous landlord Dirty Harry said, "Do you feel lucky, do you?"

Realtor forms are not the best for leases and tenants. Forms found within your MLS account, transaction desk or published by the realtors associations, lack in a lot of the protections and issues you need to address in a lease. The benefit of using these forms however, is that they have been vetted by the association's attorneys and give you some protections but with that being said almost all leases that I've seen provided through these associations fall short of addressing any real tenant and landlord issues. Realtors associations are geared towards 'sales' since that is where the money is and where 95% of their customer base - real estate agents - is, which is also where they spend 95% of their time and money... so although these databases are the go-to and great for anything to do with sales, they usually always fall short when it comes to leases, tenants, and property management - which is a much more involved and long-term process.

They will give you basic protections and are easy and fast to fill out and a lot of real estate agents use them, but then again a lot of real estate agents aren't going to stick around long enough to manage your property or to enforce those leases. You're on the right track as long as your lease has been vetted with a real estate lawyer which actively practices in tenant/landlord litigation, again actively practices - very important - just ensure that is balanced, if it's too landlord friendly that's not good either but your attorney will be able to find that balance.

One nice benefit to the PAR lease is that tenants don't question it at all. I tell them its the standard lease used by realtors for the entire state and everything is boilerplate, which it is. However, you can also make it plenty landlord-friendly just by filling the blanks in the right way. I want my tenants to feel comfortable with what they are signing, as I know that some of them have been taken advantage of by less than upstanding landlords. The more comfortable they are, the less likely they are to leave, and long term tenants are profitable tenants.

Originally posted by @David Krulac :

@Steve Babiak I'm well aware that PAR is not the only State Approved Plain Language lease, but the op lease is not the only unapproved lease either.

The Pennsylvania “PLAIN LANGUAGE CONSUMER CONTRACT ACT” does not require any preapproval of a lease; it simply states the requirements that must be met and that preapproval by the office of the Attorney General indicates that the language is acceptable. It’s quite possible that the OP’s lease complies even though it might not be preapproved.


@Steve Babiak @David Krulac @Gregory Hiban @Ricardo R.

This is the exact kind of feedback I was looking for. I was aware of the PLCCA but actually not aware you could get pre-approval from the OAG. I reached out to the OAG to ask about this process. If it doesn't cost a ton I will consider investing the time to get my lease approved.

I really see both sides of the coin. My market (Philadelphia) has a ton of intricacies that other PA towns may not face (required disclosures, occupancy standards, SWEEP violations, L&I nightmares, student housing, duplex/triplex living, etc). These complex situations have driven me to include more language in my form lease. I BELIEVE this language is benefiting both the LL and Tenant because it's more clearly outlining expectations. 

I just need to make sure the lease is well-organized and brief enough that Tenants can understand and digest everything before signing.

Thanks all for contributions I'm still hoping to hear from some specific Philly people to see their thoughts as well. 

@Kevin M.

I have used the PAR lease for 10 years. Zero issues. I add an addendum if needed. The best part is there is wording waiving their right to 10 days notice to quit. I can file eviction at any time without needing to give notice.

@Kevin M. - I do have rentals in Philadelphia, and yes there are lots of extra things you need in Philadelphia. And the list of extra things keeps growing too ... so I use addenda for many of those things, since I also have rentals outside the city where I don’t need that extra stuff. Fortunately for me, I am a HAPCO member and they do a good job of keeping up with the changes that Philadelphia introduces. Your challenge with getting preapproval is that almost constant stream of Philadelphia changes - you have to add things and then get approved once again. I wish the Attorney General had some software in place to handle this, since there are software packages out there that can review the “education grade level” of text - so it could really be automated that way, and then each time a change needs to be implemented the new document(s) can be submitted; I imagine an electronic receipt of some sort would be issued to confirm approval should the AG ever implement such a thing, along with keeping a copy of the document(s) in some database as a “just in case” they are needed.

@Matt M. - the PAR lease is not the only lease out there that has the tenant waive the rights to notice to quit; in fact you could have your own custom lease that does just that too, as long as the proper disclosure is also included. One of the issues I have heard, is that despite having that waiver in the lease, some of the magistrates ignore that part of the lease and law and still expect to see that the ten day notice to quit was delivered. So sometimes you just can’t get a break.