Evictions Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Evictions

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PENNSYLVANIA EVICTIONS

KNOWING AND using your rights as a tenant might be the difference between keeping or losing your home. 

Landlord Trouble: Speak with your landlord. Try to work out the problem in a way that is fair to both you and your landlord. Many Pennsylvania communities have mediation programs that can help landlords and tenants resolve their disputes.

How you can be evicted: Pennsylvania’s Landlord and Tenant law says that you can be evicted if:

  • You don’t pay rent;

  • You don’t live up to your end of the written or oral lease agreement

  • The time for which you rented your dwelling is up, and the landlord wants you to move.

If you have a written lease, you have a right to stay in the residence until the end of the lease term, as long as you live up to your end of the lease. If you do not have a written lease, in most circumstances the law considers you to have an oral month-to-month lease. Either you or your landlord can terminate the lease at the end of any month, for any reason or for no reason.

A Pennsylvania landlord cannot evict you:
  • Because of your race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, or age, or that of a household member

  • Because you or a household member or an acquaintance is disabled or uses a guide dog or other support animal;

  • Because you or a household member is pregnant or has children

In addition, you cannot be evicted for exercising your legal rights (for example, complaining about bad housing conditions to local housing code officials) if your landlord is retaliating (getting back at you) by evicting you.

You also may be able to prevent an eviction if you can prove that you didn’t pay rent because the rented premises were unfit to live in. You will have to prove that you complained to your landlord about serious defects, but your landlord refused to make repairs.  All complaints should be done in writing.

For a Landlord to evict you in Pennsylvania:
They must go to court, which usually involves these important steps:

1. Written notice. Unless your lease says otherwise, your landlord must give you a written notice before filing an eviction case against you. The notice tells you when the landlord wants you to move. The amount of time the eviction notice gives you to move depends on the length of your lease and the reason you are being asked to move. If you are being evicted because you did not pay rent, your landlord must give you a written notice at least 10 days before filing an eviction case.

If you are being asked to move for any reason other than nonpayment of rent, your landlord must give you a written notice

  • 15 days before filing an eviction case, if your lease is for one year or less; or

  • 30 days before filing an eviction case, if your lease is for more than one year.

Your lease can provide for a longer or shorter notice, or no notice at all.

If you have not moved out by the date stated on the eviction notice your landlord gave you, your landlord cannot just throw you out. He or she must still file a landlord/tenant complaint and go to court, as described below.

2. Court hearings. The eviction hearing will usually be before a Magisterial District Justice. Your landlord cannot just move you out, lock you out or take your personal property on his or her own. You have the right to appear at the hearing before the Magisterial District Justice with any witnesses or other evidence you have. Since eviction cases move quickly, it is a good idea to get legal advice before your eviction hearing. The landlord must appear at the hearing and present testimony as to why you should be evicted. If the landlord fails to appear, you should ask that the case be dismissed.

3. Appeal. If you lose at this hearing but have a good defense, you have only 10 days to appeal to a higher court. To stay in your home during the appeal,

  • You must pay into court when you file the appeal either the amount of rent in the judgment or 3 months rent, whichever is less; and 

  • If the Magisterial District Justice decided that you owed back rent, you must pay that amount into court, or post a bond for that amount, when you file the appeal. (You only have to pay three months of back rent into court, however, even if you owe more.)

If you want to appeal, you should get legal advice immediately after the hearing. If you do not appeal, you can be evicted by a constable or sheriff in as little as 22 days after the hearing before the Magisterial District Justice.

See more Questions and Answers on Pennsylvania Evictions

Disclaimer: The law is constantly changing and there may be times when the information on this web site will not be current. This information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. This information is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject and is not a substitute for advice from an attorney.
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