Pennsylvania is a landlord-friendly state. Landlords have the right to evict tenants for a number of reasons. Not only do all landlords have this right, but the process is also relatively simple.
However, it is important you follow all procedural rules the law requires. Otherwise, you could lose your right to evict. When that happens, you might be left with an unwanted tenant for several more months.
A Philadelphia landlord tenant lawyer can help ensure you follow the proper steps, and advise you of the many rights granted to you by law.
Right to Evict
Under the Landlord-Tenant Act of 1951, a landlord has the right to evict a tenant for a number of reasons. Failure to pay rent is the most common reason landlords try to evict tenants. In Pennsylvania, rent is considered late when it is not received 10 days after the due date. Landlords have the right to serve an eviction notice that day.
Breach of lease is another very common reason for eviction. Breach of lease occurs when a tenant has violated one of the terms of the lease. For example, if the tenant got a dog while the lease clearly outlines a no pet rule, that is a breach of lease.
Additionally, if the rental term is over and the tenant has not yet moved out, landlords have the right to evict.
Timelines to Evict
Landlords also have a right to demand tenants vacate the property within a certain amount of time. When a tenant has not paid their rent, landlords can serve a 10-day eviction notice. When serving an eviction notice for any other reason, landlords have the right to serve a 15-day eviction notice, if the lease is for less than one year. If the lease is longer than one year, landlords retain the right to serve a 30-day notice of eviction.
Landlords can serve an eviction notice in any manner they choose. There are no specific forms to fill out. When sending an eviction notice, you must hand deliver it to the tenant, or post the notice on their residence. Do not send eviction notices through the mail. This will void the notice, and you will have to start the process all over again.
The Right to a Hearing
After you serve the eviction notice, you have the right to a hearing. During this hearing, you will argue your case to the District Justice as to why you want to evict the tenant. Keep in mind that although you have the right to this hearing, your tenant does, too.
Their presence will be requested at the hearing and they can also make arguments as to why they should not be evicted. Most of the time when cases get this far, judgements are awarded in favor of the landlord.
If the tenant does not appear at the hearing, you will automatically win the case by default. After winning the hearing, you then have a right to force the tenant to evict.
Right to Dispose of Abandoned Property
It is not uncommon for tenants to leave personal belongings behind after being evicted. Sometimes they are in a hurry and do not have time to arrange proper transportation for the items. Other times, the items may be in disrepair and the tenant does not feel it is worth it to move them. In either case, the landlord has the right to dispose of or move the property, but the landlord must take the proper steps.
- First, you must contact the tenant telling them personal property was left behind. When you contact them, you must leave your own contact information.
- Upon receiving the notice, the tenant has 10 days to contact the landlord. If the tenant does not reply within 10 days, you have the right to dispose of the items and all responsibility associated with them.
- If the tenant replies within that 10-day period, you must allow them 30 days to retrieve the items.
- However, after the first 10 days, you have the right to move their belongings into storage.You also have the right to charge the tenant any fees you incurred as a result of that storage.
Right to a Security Deposit
Landlords have the right to collect a security deposit from tenants when they move in. This amount cannot be any more than two month’s worth of rent for the first year of renting.
Upon evicting a tenant, landlords have the right to keep that security deposit for a number of reasons. If the tenant still had unpaid rent at the time of their eviction, you can keep their security deposit. If the tenant breached a provision outlined in the lease, you also have the right to keep their security deposit.
Lastly, if there is damage in excess of normal wear and tear inside the rental unit, you can keep the security deposit to help pay for the repairs.
It is important that you understand when you can refuse to return a security deposit, and when you cannot. If you wrongfully keep a security deposit, the tenant can sue you for twice the amount of the deposit owed.
Right to Remove the Tenant
Sometimes, even after the courts have issued a judgement in your favor, the tenant still will not leave. When this is the case, you have the right to get law enforcement involved. You can file a Writ of Possession 10 days after the date the tenant was obligated to leave the premises. Law enforcement officers will enforce the writ and remove the tenant from the rental unit. After that, the locks should be changed to prevent the tenant from trespassing.
Need Help Evicting a Tenant? Call the Pennsylvania Eviction Lawyer
It is true that Philadelphia is landlord-friendly. As a landlord, you have many rights when tenants do not pay rent or breach part of their lease. However, there are still proper rules and procedures to follow when evicting a tenant. If you fail to follow them, it could damage your case.
If you need to evict a tenant, do not do it alone.
Call the Philadelphia eviction lawyers at Abramson & Denenberg, P.C. at (215) 475-5431. We will help you every step of the way so you can get your rental unit back, and start making a profit from it once again.
Contact us today and learn more about how we can help you.