What You Need To Know About Eviction in Pennsylvania

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Governed by the Landlord-Tenant Act of 1951, Pennsylvania eviction codes mandate that landlords are required to give tenants at least ten days’ notice before they can proceed with an eviction lawsuit. It is illegal for landlords to simply lock out or move out a tenant without a court ruling.  
The cost of living anywhere in today’s world is expensive and seems to be getting pricier by the minute. With so many people facing economic hardship from the multiple COVID-19 waves and subsequent shutdowns, renters need to be aware of their state’s eviction laws. 
To give Pennsylvania’s tenants a better understanding of their state’s eviction laws, Jerry, the super app for renters insurance, has created this guide. In it, we will discuss the possible reasons for eviction, the timeline of the whole eviction process, and tips you can use to protect yourself against unlawful eviction. 

Pennsylvania eviction 101: the four ways you can be evicted

In any lawful eviction situation, Pennsylvania law states that the landlord must provide written notice before they can proceed with filing an eviction suit. The exact length of time you’re given before you must move out or appeal will be included on the notice and depends on the details of your lease and the reason for eviction
Four causes in Pennsylvania can warrant an eviction:  
  • Failure to pay rent: Requires a 10-day notice to leave the premises before the landlord can file an eviction suit. The notice must include the tenant's name and rental address, date of notice, reason for notice, total amount of fees due and where to pay them, exact last date of notice, potential of eviction suit, and a statement of giving the notice. 
  • Violation of lease: If a tenant violates the terms of the lease, they can be evicted. But the amount of time required for notice depends on how long the tenant has occupied the rental unit. At-will tenants will be given 15 days if they have occupied the for less than one year.They will be given 30 days if they have lived in the unit for one or more years. 
  • No lease or end of lease: If the initial lease term is over and tenants are holdover tenants with no official lease, the landlord must give notice if the landlord doesn’t want to renew the lease. At-will tenants or tenants living in the unit for less than one year receive 15 days of notice. Tenants occupying the unit for one or more years get 30 days
  • Illegal activity: If you are convicted of illegal drug activity under the Controlled Substance, Drug Device and Cosmetic Act or are found to be in violation of that Act or have illegal drugs seized from the property by law enforcement officials, you will receive a 10 days notice. 
Your landlord cannot legally evict you if their complaint does not fall under one of the above categories. If their complaint does fit under one of the above causes of eviction, you will have the appropriate number of days to leave the property or fix the issue before the landlord can move forward with an eviction lawsuit. 
If the proceedings move forward to a hearing, you are legally allowed and encouraged to bring any evidence and witnesses you may have to the court. It is recommended that you seek legal advice before the hearing because the process can move quite quickly. Should the ruling be against you, you have ten days to file an appeal
Key Takeaway Pennsylvania landlords cannot evict tenants without appropriate notice and a court case. 

A timeline of eviction in Pennsylvania

Depending on the details of your tenancy, you may have between 10 and 30 days before a notice turns into an eviction lawsuit. If your landlord has decided to proceed with the eviction case, the process will typically look like this:
StepHow long it typically takesWhat to expect
Written notice from landlord10, 15, or 30 daysUnless your lease says otherwise, you’ll receive a written notice telling you the date your landlord wants you to move out by.
Summons and ComplaintA few days depending on the method of servingAfter filing a lawsuit, your landlord will serve you with a court summons.
Hearing7-10 days after summonsA Magisterial District Judge will hear your case and make a ruling. Landlords must be in attendance or tenant should ask for the case to be thrown out.
Appeal10 daysIf you lose in court, you have 10 days to file an appeal for your case to be heard by a higher court.
Eviction22 daysUnless you filed an appeal and are paying your rent and other fees to the court, law enforcement can remove you in as little as 22 days.
The eviction process can move swiftly so you need to know where you stand in the process so you can plan and protect yourself accordingly. 

How to resist eviction in Pennsylvania

Renters in Pennsylvania have rights—if you’re facing eviction, you are not in an immediately hopeless situation. There are several avenues you can take to protect yourself and remain in your home:
  • Address the cause of the eviction. First, try to fix the issue that is causing the landlord to consider eviction. Ask for help paying the rent or work to fix any damage. 
  • Point out a procedural mistake. If your landlord has taken an unlawful step in your eviction process, such as locking you out or shutting off utilities, you will have more power in the process. 
  • Argue that the landlord failed to maintain the property. If the property is damaged due to the landlord’s negligence, you’ll have a stronger case for remaining in your home.
  • Call out discrimination. It is illegal for landlords to take legal action against a tenant based on race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, and more so if you suspect your eviction is discriminatory, bring it to the judge’s attention. 

How to save money on Pennsylvania car and renters insurance

Struggling to pay your rent leaves you in a near-constant state of stress about how you’ll make ends meet. No one should be questioning if they’ll have a home month to month, but unfortunately, not making rent is a very common reason for eviction. 
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