Pennsylvania Eviction Process

Last Updated: November 8, 2021 by Elizabeth Souza

Timeline. Evicting a tenant in Pennsylvania can take around one to two months, depending on the reason for the eviction. If tenants file an appeal, the process can take longer (read more).

Questions? To chat with a Pennsylvania eviction attorney, Click here

Introduction. Pennsylvania evictions are governed by the Landlord Tenant Act of 1951. It is important for landlords to follow these rules for a lawful eviction. Below are the individual steps of the eviction process in Pennsylvania.

Step 1: Notice is Posted

Landlords in Pennsylvania can begin the eviction process for several reasons, including:

  1. Nonpayment of Rent – Once rent is past due, notice must be served on the tenant before the landlord can proceed with an eviction action.
  2. Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement – If a tenant violates a provision of a written lease or rental agreement, the landlord is not required to give the tenant the opportunity to correct the issue before moving forward with the eviction process.
  3. No Lease / End of Lease Term (Tenant at Will) – If there is no lease or the term of the lease has ended, the landlord does not need any additional reason to end the tenancy if proper notice is given.
  4. Illegal Activity – If a tenant is engaged in illegal drug activity, they must receive written notice before the landlord can proceed with the eviction process.
NOTES
  • Retaliatory Evictions. It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant for complaining to the landlord or to the appropriate local or government agency regarding the property.
  • Evicting a Squatter. If the individual occupying the property did not have the permission of the landlord when initially moving in, does not have a lease (or verbal agreement) and has no history of paying rent, then a landlord/tenant relationship may not be established. As a result, the normal eviction process may not be applicable (read more).
  • How Eviction Notices Should be Served. Below are the options to serve notice in the state of Pennsylvania:
    • The landlord or anyone who is 18 years or older may deliver the notice in person.
    • The landlord may post the notice in a conspicuous place at the rental unit.

Each possible ground for eviction has its own rules for how the process starts.

Eviction Process for Nonpayment of Rent

A landlord is allowed to evict a tenant for failing to pay rent on time.

According to Pennsylvania law, rent is considered late the day after it’s due; grace periods, if any, are addressed in the lease or rental agreement.

Once rent is past due, the landlord must provide tenants with a 10-Day Notice to Quit if the landlord wants to file an eviction action with the court. This notice gives the tenant the option to move out of the rental unit within 10 days in order to avoid eviction.

The notice must include the following information:

  • Name and address of the tenant’s rental unit.
  • The date the notice was served.
  • The reason for the notice.
  • The total amount due (including any late fees), where the payment should be made and whom the rent should be paid to.
  • A statement that the tenant has 10 days to pay and should include the exact day or the tenant should move out.
  • An ultimatum that the landlord may bring forth an eviction lawsuit.
  • A statement including how the notice was given to the tenant (via personal delivery or by posting the notice on the tenant’s door).

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

Eviction Process for Violation of Lease Terms / Rental Agreement

Icons  document     on iPropertyManagement.com A tenant can be evicted in Pennsylvania if they do not uphold their responsibilities under the terms of a written lease or rental agreement.

The amount of notice landlords are required to give depend on the type of tenancy and length of time the tenant has resided in the rental unit.

For at-will tenants and tenants who have lived in the rental unit for less than one year, landlords must provide 15 days’ written notice. For tenants who have lived in the rental unit for one year or more, landlords must provide 30 days’ written notice.

Typical lease violations under this category could include having a pet when there’s a no-pet policy, damaging the rental property or having too many people residing in the rental unit.

Note that illegal drug activity is not included in this category.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

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Eviction Process for No Lease / End of Lease

In the state of Pennsylvania, if tenants “hold over,” or stay in the rental unit after the rental term has expired, then the landlord must give tenants notice before evicting them. This can include tenants without a written lease and week-to-week and month-to-month tenants.

Often this type of eviction applies to tenants who are at the end of their lease and the landlord doesn’t want to renew.

The amount of time required in the notice depends on the length and type of tenancy.

  • At-Will Tenants – If tenants don’t have a set termination date for tenancy, landlords must provide a 15-Day Notice to Quit.
  • Less Than One Year – If tenants have resided in the rental unit for less than one year, landlords must provide them with a 15-Day Notice to Quit.
  • One Year or More – If tenants have resided in the rental unit for one year or more, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 30-Day Notice to Quit.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

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Eviction Process for Illegal Activity

Tenants who are involved in illegal drug activity must be given 10 Days’ Notice prior to beginning an eviction action.

In Pennsylvania, illegal activity includes:

  • First conviction under the “Controlled Substance, Drug Device and Cosmetic Act” which includes the illegal sale, manufacture or distribution of a controlled substance.
  • Second violation of any provision of the Controlled Substances, Drug Device and Cosmetic Act.
  • Seizure of illegal drugs from rental unit by law enforcement.

If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may continue with the eviction process.

Step 2: Complaint is Filed and Served

As the next step in the eviction process, Pennsylvania landlords must file a complaint in the appropriate court. Filing fees may vary, for example in Adams County, this costs $167-$222 depending on how much the tenant owes the landlord in back rent or other expenses.

The summons and complaint may be served on the tenant by a writ server, constable, or sheriff prior to the hearing through one of the following methods:

  1. Giving a copy to the tenant in person;
  2. Mailing a copy to the tenant; or
  3. Posting a copy in a conspicuous place on the rental unit.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.comA few days, depending on the service method chosen.

Step 3: Court Hearing and Judgment

The eviction hearing must be held 7-10 days after the summons is issued by the court.

If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, a writ of possession will be issued and the eviction process will continue.

Either tenants or landlords may file an appeal.

For all tenants other than victims of domestic violence, the appeal must be filed within 10 days of the date the ruling is issued in favor of the landlord.

Victims of domestic violence have 30 days from the date of the ruling in the landlord’s favor to file an appeal.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com7-10 days. The hearing must be held at least seven, but not more than 10, days after the summons is issued by the court.

Step 4: Writ of Possession is Issued

The writ of possession is the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit and shall be delivered or posted on a conspicuous place of the rental unit by a sheriff, constable, writ server. This allows the tenant the opportunity to remove their belongings before the sheriff or constable returns to the property to forcibly remove the tenant.

The writ will be issued on the fifth day after the judgment is issued in favor of the landlord. The landlord must request the writ, however; it will not automatically issue.

Tenants can pay all past-due rent in full, plus any additional court-ordered fees, prior to the issuance of the writ of possession and the eviction process will be stopped.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.comFive days. The writ of possession will be issued on the fifth day after the judgment is issued in favor of the landlord.

Step 5: Possession of Property is Returned

Law enforcement officials must serve the writ of possession on the tenant within 48 hours of receiving it from the court.

Tenants will then have 10 days to move out before law enforcement officials return to forcibly remove tenants from the rental unit.

Clock   on iPropertyManagement.com10 days. The tenant has 10 days to move out once the writ of possession has been posted on the rental property.

Pennsylvania Eviction Process Timeline

Below is a summary of the aspects outside of the landlord’s control that dictate the amount of time it takes to evict a tenant in Pennsylvania. These estimates can vary greatly, and some time periods may not include weekends or legal holidays.

  1. Initial Notice Period – Between 10 and 30 days, depending on the notice type and reason for eviction.
  2. Issuance/Service of Summons and Complaint – A few days, depending on the service method chosen.
  3. Court Hearing and Ruling on the Eviction – 7-10 days after the summons is issued; longer if an appeal is filed.
  4. Issuance of Writ of Execution – Five days after the ruling in favor of the landlord.
  5. Return of Possession – 10 days after the writ is posted.
Questions? To chat with a Pennsylvania eviction attorney, Click here

Additional Information

Tenant’s Abandoned Personal Property. If a tenant leaves behind personal property after an eviction, the property may be disposed at the discretion of the landlord. Before the landlord disposes the personal property, a written notice must be sent through first class mail to the tenant.  The landlord must store all personal property; however, the tenant is liable for any storage costs. The tenant has 10 days to claim the property from the postmarked date or may request an additional 30-day extension to claim the property.

Flowchart of Pennsylvania Eviction Process

Pennsylvania Eviction Process Flowchart on iPropertyManagement.com

For additional questions about the eviction process in Pennsylvania, please refer to the official legislation, Pennsylvania Unconsolidated Statutes 1951 Act 20, for more information.

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