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FAQ

What kind of complaints does the Fair Housing Commission handle?

  • Illegal evictions because you reported housing code violations;
  • Illegal rent increase or changes in the terms or conditions of the lease because you reported housing code violations;
  • Utility cut offs by a landlord who is responsible to pay for them (gas, water, electric);
  • Retaliation.

What does the FHC not do?

  • The FHC does not find housing or offer financial assistance for persons looking to buy or rent.
  • The FHC does not accept complaints for commercial properties.
 

Are there any charges or fees for the service?

No, there is no charge or fee.

Do you cover Section 8 or PHA or HUD?

The Fair Housing Ordinance covers Section 8 but not PHA or HUD properties.

Do I have to live in the rental property when I file the complaint with the FHC?

Yes, in most cases, you do need to live in the property at the time you file the complaint and at the time of your hearing.

Can I file if I don’t have a copy of my lease?

Yes, a verbal lease is accepted.

Does my rent have to be current?

Yes, in most cases, your rent needs to be current or you need to have a current withholding account.

What do I do if the Landlord illegally changed my locks?

  • Call ‘911’ immediately and ask for a Police Department Supervisor.
  • When the Police arrive, present some proof that you live there: a copy of your lease, rent receipts, bills, driver’s license, etc. The Police should contact your Landlord and ask for an “Alias Writ of Possession”, which means that the lock out was legal. If the Landlord cannot produce an “Alias Writ of Possession”, the Police should inform the Landlord to let you back onto the property. In some circumstances, the Police can arrest the Landlord for violating the anti-lock out ordinance.
  • If the Police cannot find the Landlord, the Tenant can hire a locksmith to change the locks. The Tenant should get a receipt and deduct the cost to change the locks from their rent.
  • If you have followed all of these steps and still cannot get back onto your property, call Community Legal Services (215-981-3700), TURN (215-940-3900), Philadelphia Tenant Advocate (215-606-3556) or the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service (215-238-6333).

What do I do if the Landlord takes me to court?

  • If you have already filed with the Commission, and you receive a court notice, call us immediately (215-686-4670) and fax (215-686-4684) us a copy of the court notice.
  • If your landlord filed a complaint in Municipal Court before your Fair Housing complaint was filed, the Commission is not permitted to accept your complaint.
  • Be sure to attend your scheduled court hearing and follow the orders issued by the court.

What should I do if the Landlord does not provide heat?

  • First, determine who is responsible for the heat by reading your lease.
  • If your Landlord is responsible for the heat, but has turned if off or failed to pay the bill, call ‘311’ and report this to the Department of Licenses and Inspections. You may also be able to file a complaint with the Fair Housing Commission.

How do I find out if my Landlord has a license?

The Philadelphia Property Maintenance Code states that all landlords must be licensed in order to rent properties and collect rent. To find out if your landlord has a license, call 3-1-1.