Is Philadelphia more landlord or tenant friendly?

19 Replies | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I often hear on the podcast about how certain states or cities have laws that lean in the favor of either the landlord or the tenant as far as protection and liability. Where does Pennsylvania and more specifically Philadelphia fall on this spectrum? Would appreciate any examples from past experience.

@Bill Caraker

Overall I would say PA is landlord friendly. Philadelphia might be the exception --- you have more laws to comply with as the landlord. 

Disclaimer: While I’m an attorney licensed to practice in PA, I’m not your attorney. What I wrote above does not create an attorney/client relationship between us. I wrote the above for informational purposes. Do not rely on it for legal advice. Always consult with your attorney before you rely on the above information.

@Bill Caraker I'd agree with @Chris K. , PA the state feels like it leans towards landlord friendliness but the city of Philly leans more towards tenant friendliness. Two examples:

1) In Lower Merion Township just outside Philly boundary, it was pretty easy to get a rental license. As simple as getting a business license and the rental license after a quick in-person inspection. I looked at getting a rental in Philly and the list of things a property owner has to do to get a license is depressing. Business license, U&I, suitability certification, lead certification, etc.

2) Philly landlords are highly recommend to join PGWorks so that tenant's unpaid gas bill does not put a lien on his/her property. You also face water liens too. Both gas and water bills (but not sewage) follow the tenant in Lower Merion. One less headache to deal with.

Bonus: From a tax perspective, I prefer the higher annual tax bill outside Philly to the higher one-time transfer tax inside Philly since I can immediately deduct those as oppose to transfer taxes which add to the basis. Of course, property needs to cashflow with the higher tax bill.

Originally posted by @Sung Park :

@Bill Caraker I'd agree with @Chris K. , PA the state feels like it leans towards landlord friendliness but the city of Philly leans more towards tenant friendliness. Two examples:

1) In Lower Merion Township just outside Philly boundary, it was pretty easy to get a rental license. As simple as getting a business license and the rental license after a quick in-person inspection. I looked at getting a rental in Philly and the list of things a property owner has to do to get a license is depressing. Business license, U&I, suitability certification, lead certification, etc.

2) Philly landlords are highly recommend to join PGWorks so that tenant's unpaid gas bill does not put a lien on his/her property. You also face water liens too. Both gas and water bills (but not sewage) follow the tenant in Lower Merion. One less headache to deal with.

Bonus: From a tax perspective, I prefer the higher annual tax bill outside Philly to the higher one-time transfer tax inside Philly since I can immediately deduct those as oppose to transfer taxes which add to the basis. Of course, property needs to cashflow with the higher tax bill.

 They will still put a lien on your property for unpaid gas, but if you are a member you at list are going to be notified every time they are about to shot down the gas service for non payment and you can go after your tenant for not paying gas. It used to be worse when landlord wasn't even aware about the lien. They will not going into tenants account and tell you details even if you try to call and tell them you are the owner. 

@Lana Lee That's awful. Maybe there will come a day when the city will transfer title to your tenant and not notify you about that either...

@Joseph ODonovan Agreed, anti-landlord seems right on. I come to biggerpockets to remind me not to buy anything in Philly. 

@Sung Park do you have an idea how long it  could take to secure these licenses etc etc?

this thread definitely instills some caution as all I now see are red flashing lights. 

I'm currently considering a purchase in phila (first in the city) and the first thing my realtor called out was the need for a business license to be a landlord in Phila. 


Originally posted by @Sung Park:

@Bill Caraker I'd agree with @Chris K. , PA the state feels like it leans towards landlord friendliness but the city of Philly leans more towards tenant friendliness. Two examples:

1) In Lower Merion Township just outside Philly boundary, it was pretty easy to get a rental license. As simple as getting a business license and the rental license after a quick in-person inspection. I looked at getting a rental in Philly and the list of things a property owner has to do to get a license is depressing. Business license, U&I, suitability certification, lead certification, etc.

2) Philly landlords are highly recommend to join PGWorks so that tenant's unpaid gas bill does not put a lien on his/her property. You also face water liens too. Both gas and water bills (but not sewage) follow the tenant in Lower Merion. One less headache to deal with.

Bonus: From a tax perspective, I prefer the higher annual tax bill outside Philly to the higher one-time transfer tax inside Philly since I can immediately deduct those as oppose to transfer taxes which add to the basis. Of course, property needs to cashflow with the higher tax bill.

@Velvet Basemera-Fitzpatrick. Choosing where to invest should be based on many factors. Philly is very tenant friendly. Good landlords in good neighborhoods do not find that to be a big problem. There are so many reasons to invest in Philly and clearly thats why the city was inundated in the last years with development and rehabs. If your focus is low income D neighborhoods that are not changing, other states with fast eviction would definitely be better. First define your strategy. Then find the place that suits your strategy.

@Sheryl Sitman thank you for the additional considerations! I am interested in investing in Philly because of the wonderful time I had on a short summer visit. I found the neighborhoods distinct, development moving throughout, and the parks and running paths on the river to be so engagement friendly. I also found the people friendly; I got recommendations for any and everything I wanted to try. So much so that my colleagues joked that I must have visited a neighboring city and mistaken it for Philly.

Originally posted by @Account Closed thank you for the additional considerations! I am interested in investing in Philly because of the wonderful time I had on a short summer visit. I found the neighborhoods distinct, development moving throughout, and the parks and running paths on the river to be so engagement friendly. I also found the people friendly; I got recommendations for any and everything I wanted to try. So much so that my colleagues joked that I must have visited a neighboring city and mistaken it for Philly.

 They must have visited Philadelphia wearing apparel from non-Philadelphia sports teams; that will get you mistreated in many places in Philadelphia.

@Account Closed   not because of the cheese steaks??  Philadelphia has a a lot of charm and its evolution over the last 2 decades has been incredible. Still faces a lot of challenges - but that is what makes opportunities for investors.  Good luck in your journey! If you ever need professional assistance to source and develop a project, we are here :-)

@BillCaraker how are you. Philadelphia has become a very tenant friendly county where the landlord needs to better understand tenant relations and landlord lease education and processes. There some very good organizations that I have sponsored on going real estate education on Philadelphia Landlord-Tenant Laws.

Regards

Joe Scorese