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Clarifying landlord, tenant obligations in Philadelphia

Philadelphia's real estate market has a variety of options for people who want to rent a house rather than buy one, but it's important to do some research before signing a lease. A few questions to ask:

  • Are there terms in the lease that could lead to a dispute?
  • Does the landlord have any plans to make repairs or improvements?
  • Do you plan to rent long-term, and if so, is your plan a good match for the terms of the lease?

Likewise, landlords have to take care in approving applications and enforcing the agreed-upon lease terms. Planning ahead is often the key to avoiding expensive landlord-tenant disputes that in some cases can last for years.

With regard to landlords' and tenants' obligations, this year's brutal winter weather should serve as a reminder. The terms of a lease may stipulate that the renter of a house is responsible for shoveling snow. However, if a person were to slip and fall on the rental property, then the landlord could still be sued by the injured party.

In general, if you are renting a house, it is a good idea to assume the responsibility of cutting the grass and clearing snow from the driveway and sidewalk. That is, unless you and the landlord have agreed on some other arrangement. In any case, landlords and tenants alike would be wise to clarify these matters in order to prevent disputes.

In Philadelphia, property owners are also ultimately responsible for ensuring that utility bills are paid. If you find yourself in a dispute over such matters, then a real estate attorney can help you understand your options for resolving the problem.

Source: Philly.com, "On the House: When renting a home, read the lease and think like a homeowner," Alan J. Heavens, March 16, 2014

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