Real Estate: Buying, Selling, and Leasing

Whether you are buying a home, renting an apartment, or planning on getting involved in real estate investment, it is important that you understand the various laws that pertain to real estate. The state of Pennsylvania has laws regarding the use of real estate agents, disclosures, purchase contracts, title and zoning requirements, as well as laws pertaining to leases that are important to understand. Below you will find a few quick points of reference.

  • Seller Disclosures – Pennsylvania’s laws require sellers of real estate to give the buyer a disclosure form providing details regarding seller’s knowledge of the condition of the property, and the structures and systems on it, contents that are included, and whether or not they need repair or replacement, the presence of working smoke detectors, defects in the property’s systems (electrical, plumbing, etc.), any homeowners association fees or deed restrictions that apply to the property, and more. If the home you are purchasing or selling was built before 1978, you are required to provide information about lead-based paint.
  • Purchase Agreements – These agreements control numerous aspects of the transaction and are vital to protecting and setting forth the parties’ expectations, rights and obligations. They must contain, among other things, the material terms and conditions of the sale and include an offer to sell or purchase and an acceptance of the offer, the sale price, and a description of the property.
  • Rental Laws – A landlord is required to return a renter’s security deposit within one month of the end of their lease. These security deposits are limited to two month’s rents for the first year of the lease. Following the first year, the security deposit is limited to one month’s rent, and these deposits must pay interest if they are held for more than two years. The state allows no rental discrimination on the basis of race, color, familial status, age, religion, sex or other protected statuses.

Pennsylvania does not require the involvement of an attorney in real estate transactions, but it may be prudent to consult with an experienced real estate attorney before signing a lease or purchasing or selling real estate. To speak with one of our lawyers about a real estate issue, contact our office today to set up an appointment.