Harrisburg, PAMarch 19, 2024 – Pennsylvania Senators Amanda M. Cappelletti (D-17) and Jimmy Dillon (D-5) today unveiled legislation to enforce rental rate protection measures to combat unfair and predatory rental increases. Senate Bill 1095, will cap rent increases by 10% for tenants who have rented in the unit the previous year/s. For new tenants, landlords would be capped at a 15% rent increase from what the previous tenant had been charged for renting the same unit. This would ensure that there is reasonable flexibility for landlords to respond to market forces, whether a landlord is renting to the same or a new tenant. The legislation exempts dormitories, new construction for 10 years, as well as lessors who benefit from a reduced rent through a Federal, state, or local program or subsidy and small landlords, who own less than 15 residential rental units.

“Everyone deserves a home where they can build a life and feel safe, healthy, and at peace. Whether a renter or a homeowner, a stable home is an invaluable asset to our lives,” said Senator Cappelletti. “We want Pennsylvania to be a place where everyone can excel – where everyone can afford to excel – and we need policies like this one to make that mission a reality.”

There are 1,571,478 renter households in Pennsylvania. Working at minimum wage, which in Pennsylvania is currently $7.25 an hour, a renter would have to work for 106 hours a week to afford a modest 1-bedroom rental home at Fair Market Rent. That’s over 62% of the hours in a 7-day week, leaving little time for sleeping, eating, or anything else we need to live full, healthy lives.

This legislation is a step in the right direction to give Pennsylvanians more control over where they live and what they can afford, encouraging smart financial planning and decision making.

“Our legislation is not aimed at small landlords —the plumber saving for retirement with a rental property or the firefighter getting her kids through college with rental income,” said Senator Dillon. “We’re targeting the predatory practices of large corporate landlords. These modern-day Scrooges exploit people during times of financial uncertainty and care more about windfall profits than the well-being of working families. Senator Cappelletti and I introduced SB 1095 because every Pennsylvanian deserves access to stable, affordable housing.”

Mauro Chiapinni, a 67- year-old resident of Senate District 17 who lives on a fixed income through social security, shared how he has been impacted by the lack of affordable housing available in his community, “Right now, I don’t know if I can pay my rent next month. The bills keep going up, and my income stays the same.”

They were joined by Senator Kane (D-9), a co-sponsor of the legislation. Senator Kane shared the personal story of Larry, an 85-year-old Philadelphian concerned about the many rent hikes he and his wife have had to endure in the last 5 years of renting. Larry’s letter said, “We are nearing the very top of our housing budget, and there is a rumor going around our community that the rent is going to increase even more next year. If the rents keep increasing at this rate, in the next 3 years we will have to reconsider living with our kids.”

“Unfortunately, Larry’s story is not the only one. So many people have limited options about where they can live in our Commonwealth. The increased cost of living is pricing hard-working Pennsylvanians out of their homes, and that’s why I support Senate Bill 1095,” said Senator Kane. “This bill is about creating the balance we need to ensure that as housing developments expands, Pennsylvanians aren’t left homeless.”

An additional story that was read at the press conference quoted Stephanie, a resident of Senate District 1, who shared “[Our landlord’s] plan to hike rent by 16% in 2022 was the last straw. Even with two full-time jobs, an increase like that would put us over the edge of what we could afford. A lifeline from friends finally allowed us to move out.”

The legislation is co-sponsored by Democratic Senators statewide, including Senators Saval, Fontana, Schwank, Haywood, Collett, Kane, Street, and Kearney. In addition to stabilizing rent increases, the bill establishes an Advisory Board to oversee the administration of the legislation. Represented on the board would represent landlords, tenants, housing developers, the PA Housing Finance Agency, and others who are close to the issue. This Board would meet every six months to discuss the effects of the legislation as they relate to lessors, tenants, residential rental property, and other related matters. 

The legislation, called Statewide Rental Rate Protections, which has been introduced as Senate Bill 1095, has been referred to the Urban Affairs and Housing Committee.  Watch the press conference recording here.