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Question: I live in a building with 10 apartments. My landlord is prohibiting guests in the building & apartments due to Covid-19. Is this legal?

Answer provided by: Thomas G. Wolpert, Esq. from the law firm of Wolpert Schreiber McDonnell P.C. in Royersford

Thomas Wolpert

I haven’t reviewed the lease in question of course. But typically, both written leases and Pennsylvania real estate law give property owners broad rights to control property for the sake of preserving it from imminent damage or protecting the safety of visitors, invitees, tenants, etc. If there were a small fire in one kitchen, that undermined the framing underneath a set of stairs, the landlord could prohibit people from climbing those stairs.

Under the circumstances where the Governor has declared a lockdown or various restrictions due to Covid-19, it would appear that the Landlord is within his rights to prohibit guests, at least for that time period when non-essential business activities and employment in the state, travel, gatherings, etc., are limited or stopped altogether. If spouses lived apart, or children lived independently, and a spouse or child wished to visit, a prohibition on those guests might run afoul of the constitutional rights which protect such family relationships or associations as being fundamental, and such associational rights being implied by the 5th or 14th Amendment. But as to other guests who are mere invitees of a particular tenant, I don’t think the Landlord is beyond his rights in protecting the safety of all tenants by his prohibition of guests for the duration of the public health emergency.

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More about this Montgomery Bar Association member-panelist (bio provided by this attorney prior to publication):

Thomas G. Wolpert, Esq. is a founding partner at the law firm of Wolpert Schreiber McDonnell, a general practice firm with offices in Royersford and West Chester, PA. He is a graduate of Villanova University and was the Valedictorian of his 1993 class at Widener University School of Law. He has in the past focused on and has extensive knowledge in Business Law, Employment & Discrimination, Estate Planning & Administration, Homeowners & Condominium Associations, Insurance Coverage, Personal Injury, and Real Estate Law.

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