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Testimony in Support of Notice of Rent Increase Bill

Housing

Testimony in Support of Notice of Rent Increase Bill

Date Posted: 
10/27/2015

CLS Managing Attorney George D. Gould delivered the following testimony to Philadelphia City Council on October 27, 2015. The bill passed on the same day.

Good morning.  My name is George Gould and I thank the Committee for giving me the opportunity to testify on Bill No. 140716 which amends Chapter 9-800 of the Philadelphia Code by establishing requirements for landlords who give notice of a rent increase and for tenants who decide not to renew the lease.

I am a Managing Attorney at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia.  I have worked in the area of landlord/tenant law for over 40 years.  Our office sees numerous tenants every year who are facing problems with their homes.  We have also been actively involved in legislation affecting tenants at the local, state and national level.

We strongly support the provisions of this bill and the proposed amendments to it.  Unless a lease provides for a longer notice period, the bill as amended requires a landlord, where the lease is for a year or more, to give 60 days written notice of the amount of the increase prior to the effective date of the rental increase.  If the residential tenancy is less than one year, the landlord must give notice 30 days prior to the effective date of the rent increase.  The notice must provide the amount of the rent increase, the effective date of the rent increase and the new payment amount.

If a tenant with a lease of one year or more, receives timely notice of the rent increase and decides not to renew the lease, the tenant must give the landlord 30 days written notice prior to the end of the lease term.  The notice required by the landlord and tenant must be by hand delivery or first class U. S. mail with proof of mailing.

The provisions of the bill apply to any residential lease executed or renewed after the effective date of the Ordinance, which is 60 days after it becomes law.  This bill is very important.  There are no requirements now that a landlord provide reasonable notice of a rent increase or that a tenant provide reasonable notice that they will not renew the lease.

Under existing law, a landlord could give very short notice to the tenant of a rent increase.  This gives the tenant little time to figure out if they can afford the increase and, if not, little time to relocate to another place to live.  In Philadelphia, especially for low and moderate income families, finding another place to live which is affordable and a decent place, can be difficult.  It is very important that tenants be given time to relocate to another unit.  If not, there is a real possibility that the family could become homeless and need to move to a shelter.  Over the years our office has seen cases where tenants have received notice of large rental increases and did not have adequate time to relocate to another unit.

The landlord also benefits from reasonable notice by the tenant not to renew the lease.  This gives the landlord more time to find a tenant so the unit does not remain vacant.

Since Philadelphia does not have rent control, landlords have discretion to raise the rent to any level they think is appropriate.  The provisions of this bill would give tenants time to decide if they want to renew the lease and if they decide not to renew, time to relocate to another unit.

          Thank you.

 

                                                          George Gould

                                                          Managing Attorney

                                                          Community Legal Services, Inc.