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Pennsylvania: New Abandoned Personal Property Law Enacted

PA Capitol WikiCommons Kumar Appaiah

HARRISBURG- Gov. Tom Corbett recently signed HB 1714 into law. The bill, which goes into effect Dec. 22, overhauls the portion of Pennsylvania’s Landlord-Tenant Act that deals with abandoned personal property. 

Highlights of the bill include:

  • Upon termination of a lease or relinquishment of possession of real property, a rental owner may remove any abandoned personal property remaining only if any of the following apply:
  • The resident vacated following the termination of a written lease.
  • An eviction order or order for possession has been entered and the resident has vacated and removed substantially all personal property.
  • An eviction order or order for possession in favor of the owner has been executed.
  • The resident has provided the property owner with written notice or a forwarding address and has vacated the unit and removed substantially all personal property.
  • The resident has vacated without communicating an intent to return, the rent is more than 15 days past due and, subsequent to those events, the property owner has posted notice of the tenant’s rights regarding the property.
  • Before removing or disposing of the personal property, the owner must provide written notice of the resident’s rights regarding the property. The resident has 10 days from the postmark date of the notice to retrieve the property or to request that it be stored for no more than 30 days. The owner would then have to retain or store the property for up to 30 days from the date of the notice. Residents would be responsible for storage costs.
  • Notice must be sent by first class mail to the resident at the address of the leased premises and to any forwarding address provided by the resident, including any emergency contact.
  • Under no circumstances may an owner dispose of or otherwise exercise control over personal property remaining in inhabited premises without the express permission of the resident. The owner has no right to exercise control over the personal property unless the above listed conditions under which personal property may be deemed abandoned exist.
  • If owners have knowledge or are notified of a protection from abuse ordered for the protection of the resident or family member, the owner must not dispose or exercise control over the personal property for thirty days from the date of the notice, and must store the property for up to thirty days if requested.
  • Where a resident dies and leaves personal property, the Act shall not apply.
  • Rental owners who violate the provisions of this act will be subject to triple damages, reasonable attorney fees and court costs.

The Pennsylvania Apartment Association was instrumental in getting this legislation passed. April Betau of the Kamson Corporation provided testimony on the bill before the House Urban Affairs Committee and Mike Woodward of Woodward Properties provided photos. 

Sources: Pennsylvania Apartment Association

Apartment Advocate