The following is an excerpt from “A rental lease template could help prevent some of Philly’s landlord-tenant disputes before they begin,” co-written by David A. Hoffman, William A. Schnader Professor of Law and Deputy Dean at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School; Jordan Konell L’22, and Luke McCartney L’23, and recently published at The Philadelphia Inquirer:
As we enter a new year, Landlord Tenant Court is once again packed, rental assistance funding has dried up, and the city’s COVID-19 renter protections are disappearing. That means it’s time for us as a city to again think creatively and collaboratively to improve the way we rent.
Moving our city’s rental environment forward starts with getting smart and serious about the foundation of each and every landlord-tenant relationship: the lease.
One of us worked on a recent study of over 170,000 residential leases submitted in over 200,000 eviction proceedings between 2005 and 2019 and found that Philadelphia’s residential rental leases are riddled with terms that our courts shouldn’t enforce. Over 60% of these contracts included so-called “exculpatory clauses,” which aim to let landlords off the hook for their negligence. Half included “as-is” clauses, which wrongly waive the landlord’s obligation to ensure that a rental property is habitable. Because few of us read, and virtually none of us negotiate, the law in our leases, bad and unenforceable terms have become significantly more common over the last 20 years… .