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2023 Eviction Process in Pennsylvania: Laws for Landlords & Property Managers

As a mobile home buyer, I understand that eviction laws vary across different counties in Pennsylvania. However, the general Process remains consistent. To start the eviction process, a written notice must be provided to the tenant, and the necessary forms must be filled out. Then, the eviction documents must be served to the tenant, and if required, the landlord must attend the eviction trial. After that, it’s just a matter of waiting for the court’s judgment.

In short, the eviction laws in Pennsylvania can vary slightly from county to county, but the overall eviction process remains fairly consistent:

  • Send a clear written notice
  • Fill out the forms
  • Serve the documents
  • Attend the trial
  • Wait for judgment

Maintaining a positive relationship with your landlord can go a long way in avoiding the need for an eviction. A good lease can also include provisions to address any lease violations or other issues that may arise.

If you’re a landlord seeking guidance on the eviction process, this article provides a helpful overview. Alternatively, it’s always wise to consult with an attorney who can provide legal advice tailored to your specific situation and county.

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Eviction Reasons

When it comes to evicting a tenant in Pennsylvania, the notice requirements may differ depending on the reason behind the eviction. As per Pennsylvania law, landlords are obligated to comply with notice requirements, which means that the notice must contain all the necessary information, such as the tenant’s violation and the time they have before they must vacate the rental unit.

It’s important to note that the notice must be given before filing a complaint in court. However, if the lease agreement stipulates that no notice is necessary, the landlord can move on to the next step of the eviction process. As a mobile home buyer, I would want to ensure that I understand all the notice requirements outlined in my lease agreement.

1. Failure to pay rent or nonpayment of rent

One of the most common reasons for eviction is the failure to pay rent on time. Landlords in Pennsylvania have the right to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent.

In Pennsylvania, rent is considered late if it remains unpaid a day past its due date. Before initiating the eviction process, the landlord must provide the tenant with a 10-Day Notice to Quit. This notice gives the tenant 10 days to settle any unpaid rent.

If the tenant does not pay the rent or vacate the premises within the 10-day notice period, the landlord may continue with the eviction process. As someone who values financial responsibility, I would make sure to always pay my rent on time to avoid any potential eviction proceedings.

2. Violation of the written lease/rental agreement

In Pennsylvania, it’s important for both landlords and tenants to adhere to the terms of their lease or rental agreement to avoid any lease violations.

If a tenant violates the terms of their written lease agreement, the landlord has the right to evict them. In such a situation, the landlord must provide an eviction notice, which is known as a 15-Day Notice to Quit for at-will tenants or tenants who have lived in the rental property for a year or less.

For tenants who have lived in the rental property for more than one year, the landlord must provide a 30-Day Notice to Quit. If the tenant fails to vacate the premises within the specified notice period, the landlord may initiate legal proceedings to enforce the eviction. As a responsible tenant, I would make sure to abide by the terms of my lease agreement to avoid any potential legal issues.

3. Conducting illegal activity

If a tenant engages in illegal activity on a rental property, the landlord must follow a specific process to evict them. First, the landlord must provide the tenant with a 10-Day Notice to Quit before initiating the eviction process. There are various forms of illegal activity that may warrant eviction, including violating the Controlled Substances Act of 1972 for the second time, having drugs seized by law enforcement officials from the tenant’s rental unit, or being involved in the creation, distribution, or consumption of a controlled substance.

As a responsible tenant, I would ensure that I do not engage in any illegal activities on my rental property to avoid any potential legal issues and eviction proceedings.

4. Non-renewal of lease after the end of the rental period

ennsylvania law does not permit landlords to evict tenants without good cause. Landlords must have a valid reason, such as a lease violation, before starting the eviction process. If a tenant’s lease term is coming to an end, the landlord may wait until it expires to initiate the eviction process.

Tenants who remain in the rental property even a day after their lease term ends may be subject to eviction proceedings. The type of eviction notice a tenant receives depends on their tenancy or lease term, which can include a 15-Day Notice to Quit or a 30-Day Notice to Quit. As a responsible tenant, I would ensure that I comply with the terms of my lease agreement and vacate the rental premises upon the expiration of my lease term to avoid any potential legal consequences.

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Filing a Complaint

Once the notice period has expired, the landlord may proceed to file a Landlord-Tenant Complaint. This document can be filled out either before or during the landlord’s visit to the Magisterial District Court or Court of Common Pleas in order to initiate the eviction process. It is important for both landlords and tenants to understand the legal process for eviction in their jurisdiction to ensure compliance with the law and to avoid any potential legal issues.

1. Filing steps

  • Proceed to the right Magisterial District Court or Court of Common Pleas the rental property and reason for eviction belongs to
  • Fill out the Landlord-Tenant Complaint Form
  • Pay the filing fees

2. Timeline

It takes between 10 to 30 days before a landlord can file a complaint.

Notice to Comply

It’s important to follow the legal process when dealing with tenant evictions in Pennsylvania. Before filing for eviction with the court, you must issue the tenant a notice to comply. You can easily create your Pennsylvania eviction notice using a step-by-step wizard that guides you through the process and ensures that you are submitting the correct notice.

It’s important to note that there is a small fee at the end of the wizard process, but it’s a small price to pay for legal compliance and protection. Going to court and finding out that you’ve made mistakes in the eviction process can be costly and time-consuming. So, it’s better to take the necessary precautions to avoid such situations.

Serving the Tenant

The Summons and Complaint must be served on the tenant by a sheriff, writ server, or constable.

  1. Serving the Summons and Complaint to a Tenant: When initiating eviction proceedings against a tenant in Pennsylvania, there are three methods available for serving the Summons and Complaint:
  • Delivering the Summons and Complaint to the tenant in person
  • Mailing the document to the tenant
  • Placing a copy of the document in a secure and visible position by the entrance of the tenant’s rented property
  1. After Serving the Summons and Complaint: Once the tenant receives the eviction complaint, they are not required to file an answer. However, if they wish to contest the eviction, they must file an answer within 20 days of receiving the complaint.
  2. Timeline: The Summons and Complaint must be properly served on the tenant before the eviction proceedings begin. It is important to follow the correct procedures and timelines to avoid any delays or legal issues.

Asking for Possession

  1. Filing a Motion to Obtain Judgment and get a Judgment for Possession To win an eviction case, the landlord must present a strong argument supported by solid evidence against the tenant. If the tenant fails to show up at the eviction hearing, the Magisterial District Judge may rule in favor of the landlord by default. Valid evidence that can be presented includes:
  • A copy of the deed and the lease/rental agreement
  • Rent receipts and ledgers
  • Bank and witness statements

During a court hearing, attorneys can represent the tenants or landlords. Tenants who were victims of domestic violence can appeal the ruling within thirty days. In regular circumstances, tenants have 10 days to appeal.

  1. Timeline The eviction hearing is scheduled 7-10 days after the Summons is issued. Appeals can be filed 10-30 days after the court rules in favor of the landlord, depending on the type of eviction.

Getting Possession

  1. Obtaining Possession: After the landlord wins the eviction case, they can request a Writ of Possession or Order for Possession from the district judge. This court order informs the tenant that they must vacate the property. The Writ of Possession is typically issued 5 days after the landlord wins the case. If the tenant pays all court costs and fees before the Order for Possession is issued, the eviction process is stopped.
  2. Moving Out: The final step of the eviction process is to move the tenant out of the property. According to Pennsylvania law, law enforcement officials must serve the Writ of Possession to the tenant within 48 hours of receiving it. After receiving the Writ of Possession, the tenant has 10 days to vacate the property before being forcibly evicted.
  3. Timeline: The Writ of Possession is issued 5 days after the landlord wins the eviction case. Law enforcement officials have 48 hours to serve the Writ of Possession to the tenant. Once served, the tenant has 10 days to move out of the property.

Pennsylvania Eviction Process Timeline

It takes an average of 1 month to 2 months for a complete eviction process in Pennsylvania.

Showing Evidence

  1. Tips for Maintaining Good Records In case the tenant disputes the eviction request, it’s crucial to keep meticulous records of all interactions and communications to provide proof in court. To stay organized, consider the following:
  • Keep a physical paper trail: While this can become challenging to manage and may take up significant storage space, it is an option to consider.
  • Scan documents: Scan every relevant document into your computer using a reliable scanner like the Brother ADS-1700W (priced at under $200) or the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1500 ($400).
  • Create backups: Store and backup all files on platforms such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive for easy searching.
  • Use property management software (PMS): Save everything from lease agreements, signed documents, violations, emails, notes, invoices, payments, reminders, maintenance requests, pictures, videos, and anything else that may be relevant. PMS is especially helpful when combined with scanning documents.
  1. Evidence to Prove Non-Payment of Rent If the tenant disputes non-payment of rent, be prepared to provide the following evidence to the judge:
  • Lease agreement: Present the terms of the agreement, including rent due dates and any penalties for late payments.
  • Payment history: Show all previous payments made, how they were made, and the date they were normally paid on to demonstrate the existence of an established payment schedule.
  • Payment returns: If the tenant’s check bounced, their bank account had insufficient funds, or they initiated a chargeback dispute on their credit card, provide proof to the judge, including any applicable bank fees and penalties according to the lease agreement.
  • Communication records: If you sent automated or manual payment reminders by text, email, letter, or mail, it’s crucial to show this to prove that the tenant was aware of the situation and had time to cure and make payment. Written communication is always preferable to phone calls or face-to-face meetings.
  1. Evidence to Prove Lease Violations If you’re evicting a tenant for lease violations such as unauthorized pets, noise complaints, or property damages, it’s essential to provide proof from the following sources:
  • Security cameras: If you have surveillance footage showing the tenant committing the violation, you have strong evidence that the court will likely consider favorably.
  • Video recordings: If you didn’t catch the tenant in the act, recording a video with your phone of the damage or violation can be helpful.
  • Pictures: Present pictures of the violation, as they can be worth thousands of dollars in court.
  • Lease terms: Highlight the specific lease term that the tenant violated. Even if the violation is not spelled out in detail in the rental agreement, it may still be sufficient evidence if the breach is severe enough.

Self-Help Evictions

  1. What is a self-help eviction? A “self-help” eviction occurs when a landlord tries to evict a tenant without following the legal eviction process. This can include actions such as changing the locks, removing the tenant’s belongings, or shutting off utilities. Such actions are illegal in most states, and tenants may be entitled to sue for damages and court costs if they are the victim of a self-help eviction.
  2. Can a landlord force a tenant to move out in Pennsylvania? No, in Pennsylvania, a landlord cannot personally remove a tenant from a rental unit. Eviction can only occur through a legal process, and the tenant may only be removed by a sheriff, constable, or authorized individual.
  3. What are the potential penalties for a self-help eviction? Under Pennsylvania law, a landlord who engages in a self-help eviction may be held liable for the tenant’s court costs and attorneys’ fees. Additionally, the tenant may be entitled to remain in the rental unit and can sue for actual damages and violations. In some cases, a tenant may also seek an injunction to prevent further violations during the court action.

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