May 30th, 2018

Municipal Regulations Governing Residential Real Estate Leasing

Perhaps you are moving and would like to lease your current home rather than selling or are interested in purchasing an investment property and becoming a landlord to make some money. While that idea may sound appealing, it is not as easy as sticking a “For Rent” sign in the front yard or placing an ad on Craigslist.  Before doing so, you must check with your local municipality to see if they require registration and/or inspection of the unit prior to offering it to tenants.

In Allentown, for example, a property must be registered, inspected, and all code violations must be corrected prior to the issuance of a residential rental license, all for a fee, of course. The license must be renewed annually and the property must be re-inspected every five (5) years or upon submission of a complaint.  In addition, the owner or operator of the unit must live locally or designate a local agent to manage the property. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in fines, penalties, and/or additional legal action.

A number of other Lehigh Valley municipalities, including the Cities of Bethlehem and Easton and the Boroughs of Emmaus and Alburtis, have regulations setting forth requirements for residential rental units. The Borough of Northampton also has similar regulations in place, which it just updated in mid-May.  The Borough of Macungie recently announced that it is in the process of developing regulations and inspection requirements that will likely go into effect this summer (you can review the proposed ordinance and materials on the Borough of Macungie’s website – www.macungie.pa.us). A number of other municipalities have rental regulations and, based on recent activity in the Lehigh Valley, we can likely expect this to become a hot topic among those that do not currently regulate rental housing.


Attorney Sarah Murray has extensive knowledge of commercial and residential real estate transactions and land development. She is well-versed in handling land use and zoning matters, having formerly sat as the Assistant Solicitor for a zoning hearing board.