WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has a long-standing commitment to protecting vulnerable populations, including individuals with disabilities and senior citizens;

WHEREAS, certain individuals with disabilities and senior citizens may need to be able to terminate a lease so they can move to living arrangements that provide necessary medical and/or physical care and/or assistance;

WHEREAS, delaying moving for the purposes of long term services and supports can deprive them of essential care and leave them at both personal and financial risk;

WHEREAS, Pennsylvania has more than 2.7 million residents age 60 or older, and a significant number of Pennsylvania residents have disabilities;

WHEREAS, six other jurisdictions have enacted laws allowing early lease terminations for individuals with disabilities and/or senior citizens;

WHEREAS, whether an individual with disabilities or a senior citizen needs long term daily care is easily verifiable;

WHEREAS, home and community-based services, including agency-based and self‑directed/consumer-employer services under federal, state, and local programs, as well as natural supports, are critical to enabling a senior citizen or an individual with a disability to remain in his or her current tenant unit or elsewhere in the community;

WHEREAS, House Bill No. 975, Printer's No. 1231 would allow a senior citizen, an adult with dementia or an individual with a disability, who needs to move for the purposes of long term services and supports, including securing such personal care at home pursuant to a federal and state funded program for at least six months, to terminate a lease by giving the landlord sixty days notice of such termination;

WHEREAS, the identical language passed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in the previous session as an amendment to House Bill No. 1218, Printer's No. 3539 (Session of 2013‑2014) by a vote of 195-2;

WHEREAS, as the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act provides for lease termination accommodations and other accommodations for individuals with disabilities (such as, by way of example only, early lease termination because of an inaccessible unit), the language of House Bill No. 975, Printer's No. 1231 could be strengthened to state that the legislation does not in any way impede existing rights and obligations of landlords and tenants under the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act;

WHEREAS, the language of House Bill No. 975, Printer's No. 1231 could be further strengthened by:

  • using the age 60 or older for senior citizens to be consistent with federal and state law;
  • cross referencing the Pennsylvania Personal Care Program ("Program") for an adult age 60, an adult with dementia or an individual with a disability who moves to a residence to be served by a primary caregiver under the Program;
  • enabling a lease termination accommodation if the individual moves to any other residence, not only the residence of a family member, in order to receive home and community-based services and/or natural supports;
  • including language that Landlord and Tenant shall be responsible for performance of all rights and obligations arising out of the lease agreement prior to the effective date of tenant's lease termination provided pursuant to House Bill No. 975, Printer's No. 1231terms and conditions of the lease agreement incurred prior to the lease termination date given by the tenant;
  • including language that the Landlord and Tenant shall comply with 68 P.S. § 250.512 regarding the disposition of any security deposit; and
  • including language that nothing in that bill is intended to preempt any federal, state or local law providing a right to an early lease termination and that to the extent House Bill No. 975, Printer's No. 1231 and any local ordinance conflict, the General Assembly expressly defers to the local ordinance.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Philadelphia Bar Association urges the General Assembly and the Governor to take all appropriate actions required to enact House Bill No. 975, Printer's No. 1231 or similar legislation with the goals of including the improvements suggested in this Resolution and providing for accommodation lease termination rights for senior citizens and individuals with disabilities requiring long-term care, services and supports, or personal care in a residence, for more than six months;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Chancellor or his designee are authorized to communicate the Philadelphia Bar Association's position on House Bill No. 975, Printer's No. 1231 or any similar legislation to the Governor, the General Assembly, the media and the public and to take whatever action is necessary to effectuate this resolution.

ADOPTED: December 17, 2015