A. WHAT NOTICE IS REQUIRED?
The tenant should check the lease, if there is a written one, and see if it states whether or not the tenant must give notice before moving. If the lease says nothing about giving notice, the tenant is not required to do so if the tenant moves out when the lease runs out. But whether the lease says so or not, the tenant should give the landlord as much notice as possible so that the landlord can quickly re-rent the property.
Under the new law of "implied warranty of habitability" it a landlord refuses to make necessary repairs, the tenant may, after proper notice, break his lease before it runs out.
The apartment must be left in the same condition as when the tenant moved in. The tenant may be held responsible for damages caused to the apartment beyond damages to the property. The tenant should take pictures of the property before leaving as a way of proving in what condition the apartment was left. The tenant should also return the keys to the landlord.
B. WHAT ABOUT THE SECURITY DEPOSIT?
To get the security deposit returned, the tenant must give the landlord, or his/her agent, a forwarding address in writing at or before the time the tenant actually moves out. The landlord must then, within thirty (30) days from the date the tenant moves out, 1) return the security deposit or 2) send the tenant a list of damages the tenant caused in the apartment, the cost of the repairs, plus any extra money left over from the security deposit. If the landlord does not return the security deposit or does not provide the written list of damages within thirty (30) days, the tenant can sue the landlord for double the security deposit by going to a District Justice's office and filing a complaint against the landlord.
After the second anniversary of the lease the tenant is entitled to receive on a yearly basis interest on all funds over $100 deposited by the landlord in an interest-bearing account. The landlord is entitled to receive as administrative expenses a sum equivalent to one per cent annum upon the security deposit.
The law (68 P.S. section 250.512) states that any landlord who fails to provide a written list within thirty (30) days shall give up all rights to keep any part or the money held as a security deposit. The tenant can choose one of two remedies. First, the tenant can sue to recover the amount of the security deposit. The landlord cannot raise any defense or counterclaim for damages to the property. For example, the tenant can sue for the return of a $100.00 security deposit. The landlord cannot counterclaim for the cost of any damages left by the tenant.
The second remedy the tenant has is to sue for double the amount of the security deposit If the tenant chooses this remedy, the landlord may counterclaim for damages to the property, up to the amount of the security deposit.
For example. the security deposit is $100.00. The tenant sues for $100.00 times two which equals $200.00 The landlord proves that the tenant left a broken window that cost $40.00 to repair. The tenant may recover $100 00 times two, which equals $200.00 minus $40.00, for a total of $160.00
If the tenant needs to go to court to get back the security deposit, the tenant should go to the District Justice of the Peace and swear out a complaint. A hearing date will be set and at the hearing the tenant should be prepared to prove that the rent was paid (by showing receipts) and that the keys and the written forwarding address were given to the landlord when the tenant moved out.