Legal Issues Surrounding Collecting Rent in Pennsylvania

Rental income is a major part of our economy. This should come as no surprise as there is a significant need for rental properties both commercial and residential. People need a place to live and/or conduct business so they rent property. Conversely, many people are in the business of renting properties as a primary or supplemental income. In most instances, the collection of rent is a rather cut and dry process. Renters pay their rent when the due date arrives.

Of course, there are those proverbial bumps in the road where a renter may have difficulty paying the amount they owe. Often, such problems are solved amicably. Then, there are those instances where a renter is in arrears for a significant amount of money. In such instances, it may become necessary for the landlord or property owner to take legal action against the person who owes the outstanding debt. This is quite commonplace and in order to properly collect outstanding debts one must comply with the law. In particular, it is important to pay attention to the statute of limitations for the collection of rent in the state of Pennsylvania.

PA Statute of Limitations

Specifically, in the state of Pennsylvania, if a tenant has signed a lease with a landlord then the lease would be considered a written contract. As such, the statute of limitations to collect unpaid rent in such a circumstance would be 21 years. This means a landlord will not be able to sue to collect the unpaid rent once the statute of limitations expires. Obviously, 21 years is an incredibly long statute of limitations. There is good reason for such a lengthy statute: if people repeatedly defaulted on rent it could destroy a major part of our nation's economy. So, to avoid the disastrous situation of rent defaults becoming commonplace, landlords are given tremendous leeway in terms of the time allowed to file suit for the collection of rent.

One reason the Pennsylvania statute of limitations is so lengthy is because the landlord can seek to collect rent without the aid of the courts. Often, the landlord will seek to acquire the rent through the use of a collection agency. If this fails then the need to sue may prove necessary. In some instances, the former tenant may simply "disappear" and prove difficult to locate. With a lengthy statute of limitation, the ability to sue for past due rent is possible even if it takes a decade to find the former tenant. Again, this allows for the economic infrastructure of the rental business to remain strong.