Defenses to Nonpayment

  • Rent Receipts: Bring all your receipts or proof of payment to court for the whole time you lived in the property.
  • Repairs: If you withheld rent because of repairs issues, you should bring:
    • Current bank statements or money orders showing rent you withheld.
    • Printed, dated photos.
    • Documented L&I violations.
    • Texts, emails or letters to landlord requesting repairs.
    • Receipts for any repairs you made.
    • For more information on withholding rent, click here.
  • Housing Inspection License: Your landlord needs a license to charge you rent. To get your landlord’s license history, go to L&I at the Municipal Services Building (near Broad St & JFK Blvd) or click here.  For the Housing Inspection License law, click here.
  • Certificate of Rental Suitability: If you moved in after October 2011 your landlord needs to give you a Certificate of Rental Suitability and the Philadelphia Partners for Good Housing Brochure to charge you rent or evict you. For the Certificate of Rental Suitability law, click here.
  • Lead Free or Lead Safe Certification: If you moved in after December 2012 and you live in non-subsidized housing built before 1978 and you have a child age six or under when you signed the lease, your landlord needs to provide you a Lead Free or Lead Safe Certification to charge you rent.  For the Lead Certification law, click here.
  • Lead Poisoning Violation: If the Health Department cites your property for a lead poisoning violation, your landlord cannot charge rent or evict you until the cause of the lead poisoning is remediated. For the Lead Poisoning law, click here.
  • Excess Security Deposit: After the first year of a lease, you can ask for a rent credit for any security deposit over one month’s rent.  For the Excess Security Deposit law, click here.
  • Utilities: Check your lease and see if the utility was your responsibility. Bring any bills or letters from the utility company showing what you paid.
  • Attorney Fees: You do not owe for attorney fees unless it says so in your lease and you were wrong in some way.
  • Damages: You are responsible for damages you caused, not ordinary wear and tear.

 Defenses to Termination of Term

  • Term not over: Check your lease to see if the lease term is actually over.
  • Certificate of Rental Suitability: If you moved in after October 2011 your landlord needs to give you a Certificate of Rental Suitability and the Philadelphia Partners for Good Housing Brochure to charge you rent or evict you.
  • Subsidized Housing Protections: If you live in HUD, Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) or public housing, you cannot be evicted for termination of term.
  • L&I Violations: Your landlord cannot evict you if there are open L&I or lead poisoning violations and you are current in rent or rent escrow.

 Defenses to Breach of Lease

  • Your landlord must prove that you breached the lease using documentation or witnesses.
  • You can bring documentation and witnesses with you to court to show that you did not breach your lease.