Pennsylvania’s Act 129 of 2012 which went into effect in August amends the Pennsylvania Landlord and Tenant Act to give landlords guidance on dealing with personal property left behind by tenants who vacate a rental property.

Before Act 129, no clear statutory or regulatory guidance for landlords and tenants regarding their respective rights and duties after the tenant vacates existed.  Act 129 requires tenants to remove their personal property at the time that they relinquish possession of the property.  A tenant is deemed to have relinquished the premises if there is an order of possession and execution in favor of the landlord, or if the tenant has physically vacated the premises; removed substantially all personal property and has provided a forwarding address or written notice that the tenant has vacated the premises.

If a tenant’s personal property remains after relinquishment of the premises, the landlord may send notice under Act 129 to the tenant that the property has been left behind.  The tenant then has 10 days from the notice to contact the landlord and state whether the tenant intends to retrieve the property.  If the tenant does not contact the landlord within the ten-day period, the landlord may dispose of the property.  However, if the tenant contacts the landlord within the 10 day window and advises the landlord that the tenant’s intent is to retrieve the property, the landlord must store the property for 30 days at a site of the landlord’s choosing.  Property retrieved within 10 days by a tenant may not incur storage charges from a landlord, however property retrieved after the 10 day window may incur a reasonable storage fee.

While helpful to both landlords and tenants, the Act does impose statutory notice requirements, and savvy landlords should have their standard leases reviewed and updated by counsel in light of Act 129’s amendment of the Landlord and Tenant Act.

Kenneth Ferris is a member of Stark & Stark’s Yardley, PA office, concentrating in Business & Corporate Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Ferris.