New Pennsylvania legislation hopes to protect renters from unfair price hikes

ByNydia Han and Heather Grubola WPVI logo
Tuesday, March 19, 2024
New Pa. legislation hopes to protect renters from unfair price hikes
New Pennsylvania legislation hopes to protect renters from unfair price hikes

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A new bill designed to protect tenants from exorbitant rent hikes was unveiled in Pennsylvania on Tuesday.

The Action News Troubleshooters get a lot of complaints from people who say their rent has suddenly and unexpectedly skyrocketed and they simply cannot afford the increase. The new bill is designed to make such steep and surprising hikes illegal.

"Between the rent increases and everything else going up, our days are numbered being here," said Larry Chiolan who lives in Philadelphia's Torresdale section.

Eighty-four-year-old Larry Chiolan says he and his wife sold their house and moved to an apartment to downsize, but now they're getting priced out of it.

"It was $1,375 a month. Right now it's $1,700 and going up," said Chiolan.

Chiolan says when he first started renting, he was paying $16,000 a year in rent.

"And three more years with the raises are going up, it's going to cost $24,000," he said. "It makes you feel rotten, you got no place to turn to. I don't want to go to my kids. And I want to -- if I can -- give them a little bit of money. There's nothing else for us."

So he is keeping a close eye on Harrisburg where Statewide Rental Rate Protections legislation was unveiled Tuesday. The bill was co-sponsored by Pennsylvania State Senator Amanda Cappelletti, who represents portions of Montgomery and Delaware counties.

"It's just really putting those guardrails in to ensure that tenants have security, and knowing and understanding what their increases are going to be from year to year," she said.

The bill puts a cap on rent increases for current tenants at 10% and only once per year. It also requires landlords to provide the tenant with written notice of the increase at least 90 days prior to the new rate going into effect. And new tenants can't be charged more than 15% above what the previous tenant was paying.

"But I think it's really important to note when we're talking about this: there are exemptions in here for dormitories, a 10-year exemption for new construction," she said.

Small landlords who own fewer than 15 residential rental units and rental properties regulated or certified as affordable housing are also exempt.

Cappelletti hopes this will have a ripple effect encouraging more people to move to or stay in Pennsylvania.