What can I do if I find out I’m renting an illegal unit in Pennsylvania?

building containing an illegal unit

After months of searching for a new place, you’ve finally found a great unit in a perfect location. After moving in, however, you may discover that this apartment was a steal for a reason. If you suspect you’ve been rented an illegal unit, you’ll likely experience a wealth of emotions like anger, anxiety, and frustration. Luckily, you have a Montgomery County, PA tenant lease transactions attorney on your side to help with any issues you may experience with your lease agreement. Keep reading to learn more about the common signs you’re living in an unregulated apartment and what you can do about it.

What is an illegal unit?

An illegal unit is a space that is rented or occupied by a tenant but has not met the guideline to qualify as a unit. This could be for a number of reasons, but most commonly it is not considered a residential space because it is a shed or attic space and the owners of the property never registered the space with the municipality.

There are many regulations surrounding a residential space, and often, property owners and landlords will rent out spaces that do not meet the building codes to bring in additional income.

Not all illegal units are run down and in tiny attics. If any of the following apply to your apartment, you may be renting an unregistered unit without even realizing it:

  • There are no windows
  • You share a gas meter with other occupants
  • There is only one exit
  • Fixtures are in separate areas, like a stove in one room and a fridge in the other
  • There is no plumbing inside the unit
  • There is no lock
  • Utilities are included in your rent payments, so you do not have a paper trail of occupying the space

Do I have any legal options?

If you discover you’ve been occupying an illegal apartment, you’ll immediately want to start looking for a new place to live. However, you should also contact an attorney as soon as possible, as you have rights as a tenant in this scenario.

Generally, if it’s discovered that a unit is rented illegally, the landlord cannot evict you without a court order. When that order is issued, landlords may be required to pay up to six months’ worth of rent for a tenant to relocate. On top of that they may be required to pay hefty fines.

When you’re in a tough situation due to a greedy property owner looking to maximize space, ensuring you have an attorney on your side is essential. At Friedman Schuman, we have the experience necessary to help those leasing units. Contact us today to learn more about how our dedicated legal team can help you through this situation.

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