Pennsylvania Law Ties Building Repair Loans to Affordability

A new state program provides forgivable loans for residential repairs and retrofits to landlords who don’t raise rents by more than 3 percent.

1 minute read

October 10, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

A new Pennsylvania state law aims to encourage property owners to repair and retrofit aging homes and buildings and simultaneously keep rents affordable for tenants. As Roshan Abraham explains in Next City, “The Whole Home Repair Act sets aside $125 million for grants to low and middle-income homeowners and forgivable loans for small landlords to repair or retrofit homes, along with money for staff and workforce development for three years.”

The program also bars landlords from raising rents by more than 3 percent annually to qualify for loan forgiveness. “In addition to the 3% limit on rent increases, small landlords who want their loans forgiven must offer a three-year lease renewal to tenants living in the unit receiving the repairs.” Low- and middle-income homeowners can access forgivable loans for repairs that many of them couldn’t afford to make otherwise.

Proponents of the law say that despite not being aimed at new construction, the legislation could still help alleviate the state’s housing shortage by keeping older units habitable and preventing them from becoming abandoned, but due to the scale of the need, the program is “not expected to meet the outstanding need for repair among Pennsylvania’s homes.”

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