Tag Archive for: eviction

Eviction appeals: In Pennsylvania, once a landlord/tenant eviction hearing is decided by a Magisterial District Justice (or by a Municipal Court Judge in Philadelphia), either party has the right to appeal if they disagree with the decision.

If a tenant appeals a determination of possession, there is a 10 day appeal deadline. In other words, the tenant must file the appeal in the Court of Common Pleas where the property is located within 10 days. The tenant has to then serve the notice and Rule advising the Landlord that they have 20 days to file a complaint. These forms must be served on the Landlord and Magisterial District Judge.

The tenant must also file a supersedeas which prevents the sheriff or constable from kicking the tenant out of the property. In addition to filing fees, the supersedeas requires that the tenant pay the lower of 3 months’ rent or the judgment to the Court to hold in escrow until the final hearing. The tenant must also pay the monthly rent to the Court every 30 days. If the tenant fails to do this, the supersedeas may be terminated and the eviction may proceed. Make certain that you keep track of this deadline as some months have more than 30 days.

For issues regarding just the monetary judgment account, the appeal deadline is 30 days.

The process is the same, but you do not need to file a supersedeas and therefore do not need to pay the funds monthly to the Court.

If a landlord appeals, the deadlines are the same, except that the landlord must then file a complaint to the tenant instead of a Rule instructing the other party to file one.

It is recommended that the parties hire an attorney to proceed with an appeal as it is much more difficult and complex than filing with the lower Court.

For a tenant to be evicted, the landlord may proceed on one or more of the following grounds:

Nonpayment of Rent. For example, the tenant has failed to pay the current or prior months’ rent, and the rent is past due. Also, the tenant has failed to pay late fees.
Termination of the term. For example, the lease runs for 12-months and the landlord gave adequate notice that the lease is not to be renewed. If the tenant stays past the twelfth month, the landlord may proceed on this ground.
Breach of the lease. For example, the lease states that pets are not permitted and the tenant has a pet.
At the eviction hearing, it is the burden of the Landlord to show that the grounds have been met. However, if the eviction is based solely on Nonpayment of Rent, the tenant will be permitted to remain in the property if he pays the judgment in full.

In Pennsylvania, before an eviction may be filed, the landlord must serve the tenant(s) with a Notice to Quit. The Notice to Quit must explain why the tenant is being evicted: Nonpayment of Rent, Termination of the term (i.e. the 12-month lease is over and the lease was not renewed), or Breach of a term of the lease (i.e. no pets). However, the lease sometimes allows for the waiver of the Notice and permits the Landlord to file for eviction immediately.

The Notice to Quit must be served one of three ways: personally on the tenant (by handing him or her a copy), leaving the notice on the entrance to the residence, or by posting the notice conspicuously on the premises.

The Notice to Quit must contain the following information:

  • Name and Address of Tenant being evicted
  • Date of service
  • Grounds for Eviction
  • Total rent due and owing
  • Amount of time to leave the property before an eviction is filed
  • Notice that the Landlord may pursue legal action

The Notice requires that a certain amount of time must pass between the time that the Notice to Quit is served and eviction is filed. For failure to pay rent, the time is 10 days. For either termination of term or breach, the time required is 15 days for leases that last 1 year or less, or 30 days for leases lasting longer than 1 year.

A lease is the typical agreement outlining the arrangement to occupy property between the tenant, who will become the occupant, and the landlord, who is the legal owner of the property. Leases between landlords and tenants can be oral or written if the lease is for a period of less than three years, although written is always preferable. Lease agreements must be in writing for terms greater than three years. A tenant should make a careful review of the property prior to signing a lease. For example, a tenant should check to see if all appliances are in working order, if there are any plumbing issues, if the electric is properly wired and all light fixtures and outlets are in working order, whether the walls or ceilings have any cracks, holes or other damage, if the floors, railing and bathroom fixtures are in good repair, whether there are any rodent or insect problems, and whether the windows and doors are functional and secure. A tenant should be sure to note any existing damages to the landlord prior to signing a lease as the tenant is obligated to leave the property in the same condition at the termination of the lease.

The term of a lease will automatically terminate as stated in the lease but can terminate earlier in certain circumstances. A landlord can evict a tenant if they are behind on rent or break any other clause of the lease. A landlord must provide a notice to quit to be personally delivered to the tenant, posted to their residence, or left in a common area. The notice must allow a time frame to rectify the breach prior to eviction. If the tenant does not come into compliance, the landlord must then follow the steps to file a complaint in district court for eviction.

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