VIEWS: 12 PAGES: 3 POSTED ON: 8/31/2012
Pennsylvania Evictions The foundation of any Landlord / Tenant relationship is the contract between the parties referred to as the Lease Agreement. Most Landlord / Tenant relationships involve written contracts or leases, but verbal agreements may also be binding and enforceable. When you enter a Landlord / Tenant relationship, it is recommended that you have an attorney review the lease, which can be costly. A poorly worded lease can mean the difference between winning and losing a Landlord / Tenant dispute. Just make sure you have a good lease that states very clearly the rules and stipulations. We customize our lease to each tenant. If there previous Landlord had any smaller problems with them, we make sure to highlight that area. Our 1 Year Rental Lease Agreement is very detailed to cover almost everything; it is worth the investment of $14.95. And you can download it and have it forever. EVICTIONS: Under Pennsylvania law, in order to legally evict tenants or recover any funds paid under a lease, you are required to go to court. This is a quote from a reputable law firm…”If you attempt this without counsel, you may unknowingly miss out on recovering all that you deserve. You could even subject yourself to civil or criminal liability by engaging in the unlicensed practice of law!” Law Firms want you to hire them. We do recommend if it is a complicated eviction beyond an eviction for non-payment of rent, or termination of lease because of damage or additional persons living on the property, etc. The typically evictions are easy to do yourself. We will provide you with the forms you will need to complete an eviction yourself. (See our Forms Page) Legal Grounds for Eviction: Non-payment of rent; End of lease term; Breaking the lease agreement. In order to comply with the law, Landlords are required to do the following: a. Provide to a Tenant Notice to Vacate (Eviction Notice) in compliance with the lease and / or Landlord and Tenant Act prior to filing any legal action in court. b. File an action in court seeking an order of possession. Landlords can seek rent and other monetary damages from the Tenant at this time or in a subsequent suit with the court. c. Upon obtaining an Order for Possession, a property owner must give appropriate notice under Pennsylvania law and allow the Tenant at least ten (10) days, if residential, or fifteen (15) days, if commercial, to vacate the premises. On the eleventh (11) day or the sixteenth (16) day, a property owner can then have the local Constable or Sheriff remove any remaining persons from the property. LANDLORD / PROPERTY OWNER RIGHTS: The rights of Landlords and Tenants are dictated both by the terms of the Lease and Pennsylvania Law. For Property Owners and Landlords, these rights generally include the right to: Right to receive monthly Rental obligations; Right to receive rent on time; Right to have a Tenant sign a written lease; Right to have a Tenant move out on time; Right to money damages for any damage done to your property; Right to conduct inspections on the property (if mentioned in the lease.) Right to request an initial security deposit; Right to terminate lease (under certain conditions and situations) Right to withhold a security deposit if damage is done to the property; Right to request a credit check; Right to Appeal the Initial Court determination! TENANT RIGHTS: For Tenants, rights generally include the right to: Right to request a lease be placed in writing; Right to a Habitable Environment; Right to Safe and Clean Housing; Right to Privacy; Right to Inspect the property before signing any lease; Right to stay in the residence for the duration of the lease; Right against any Self-Help Eviction; Right to a return of the Security Deposit within 30 days after vacating the residence; Right against any rent increase during the lease period; Right to terminate the lease (under certain conditions and situations); Right to a Court hearing prior to any Eviction! Right to Appeal the initial Court hearing! In Pennsylvania, Magisterial District Courts are courts of original jurisdiction for Landlord-Tenant disputes and for civil disputes involving $8,000.00 or less, in addition to serving other functions. Filing suit at Magisterial District Court is often the quickest and most effective way to regain possession of a property or recovery funds due under a lease. At a Magistrate Hearing both parties have an opportunity to testify and present evidence to the Judge. (Most Law Firms will represent your interests at a District Magistrate hearing for a flat fee as low as $500.00.) Arbitration An arbitration is an equitable legal proceeding adjudicated by a panel of attorneys. Actions for money damages where the amount in controversy is less than a prescribed jurisdiction amount, e.g. $25,000.00, must first be submitted to and heard by a panel of arbitrators before the matter can proceed to a Court of Common Pleas Trial. Landlord-Tenant disputes may be determined by arbitration if a party appeals the decision rendered by a Magisterial District Court or if the action is initially filed with the Court of Common Pleas, Arbitration Division. (Being presented by a law firm for Arbitration can cost well over $1000.) Court of Common Pleas Usually an Eviction does not make it this far in the court system. But if a Landlord- Tenant dispute is appealed, the matter will proceed to either a Judge or Jury Trial before the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division Conducting a trial before the Court of Common Pleas, (if it gets this far) should require an experienced trial attorney to draft pleadings, conduct discovery and litigate all aspects of the case The Superior Court is one of Pennsylvania's two statewide intermediate appellate courts. This court reviews most of the civil and criminal cases that are appealed from the Courts of Common Pleas. The court often is the final arbiter of legal disputes. Although the Supreme Court may grant a petition for review of a Superior Court decision, most such petitions are denied and the ruling of the Superior Court stands. Decisions rendered by the Court of Common Pleas are reviewed by the Superior Court to determine if the trial court made an erroneous legal ruling.
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