Pennsylvania Eviction Process

Pennsylvania Eviction Process

Last Updated: November 8, 2021 by Elizabeth Souza

Steps of the eviction process in Pennsylvania:

  1. Landlord serves tenant written notice.
  2. Landlord files complaint with court (if unresolved).
  3. Court holds hearing and issues judgment.
  4. Writ of possession is issued.
  5. Possession of property is returned to landlord.

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.

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

Grounds for an Eviction in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, a landlord cannot legally evict a tenant without cause. Legal grounds to evict include not paying rent on time, staying after the lease ends, violating lease terms or illegal activity. Even so, proper notice must first be given before ending the tenancy.

Grounds Notice Period Curable?
Nonpayment of Rent 10 Days No
End of / No Lease 15 Days or 30 Days No
Lease Violation 15 Days or 30 Days No
Illegal Activity 10 Days No

Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent

In Pennsylvania, a landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent on time. To do so, they must first give 10 days’ notice to vacate the premises. The tenant does not have the option to fix the issue and must move out.

Unless the lease states otherwise, rent is due at the beginning of each pay period and is considered late in Pennsylvania the day immediately after its due date. So for example, if rent is due on the first of the month, it is considered late starting on the second of the month (if not paid in full). There is no right to a legal grace period (i.e., five days).

Once rent is considered late, the landlord can begin the eviction process by serving the tenant with proper notice.

Eviction for No Lease or End of Lease

In Pennsylvania, a landlord can evict a tenant without a lease or with a lease that has ended (known as a “holdover tenant” or “tenant at will”). To do so, they must first terminate the tenancy by giving proper notice to move out.

Tenants who have lived at the dwelling unit for less than 1 year must be served a 15 days’ notice to vacate. Tenants who have lived at the dwelling unit for more than 1 year must be served a 30 days’ notice to vacate. Tenants do not have the option to stay and must move out.

Once the tenancy ends, if the tenant remains on the property, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.

Eviction for Violation of Lease or Responsibilities

In Pennsylvania, a landlord can evict a tenant for violating the terms of their lease or not upholding their responsibilities. To do so, the landlord must first give prior notice.

For tenants who have lived at the dwelling unit for less than one year the landlord must give 15 days’ notice to vacate. For tenants who have lived at the dwelling unit for more than 1 year, the landlord must give 30 days’ notice to vacate. Landlords are not required to allow the tenant to correct the issue to avoid eviction. 

Tenant responsibilities include:

  • Complying with all statutes, Commonwealth codes, regulations, and ordinances in Pennsylvania.
  • Not allowing any person on the premises to destroy, deface, impair, or remove any part of the dwelling unit.
  • Not allowing any person on the premises to disturb the peaceful enjoyment of other tenants or neighbors.

Examples of lease violations:

  • Having an unauthorized pet or guest.
  • Parking in an unauthorized area.
  • Not maintaining a certain level of cleanliness.

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

Eviction for Illegal Activity

In Pennsylvania, a landlord can evict a tenant for committing an illegal activity.  To do so, a landlord must first provide a 10 days’ notice to vacate. The tenant does not have the opportunity to correct the issue to avoid eviction.  

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 proceed with the eviction process.

warning

Illegal Evictions in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, any of the below is illegal. If found liable, the landlord could be required to pay the tenant up to two months’ rent or actual damages sustained (whichever is greater), plus the cost of the suit and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

“Self-Help” Evictions

No matter the situation, a landlord is not allowed to forcibly remove a tenant by:

  • Changing the locks.
  • Shutting off utilities.
  • Removing tenant belongings.

A tenant can only be legally removed with a court order obtained through the formal eviction process.

Retaliatory Evictions

It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant in response to exercising a legally protected right. These rights include:

  • Complaining about habitability issues to the landlord or any authority tasked to enforce the law.
  • Filing a complaint to a government authority.
  • Joining a tenant’s union or organization.
  • Pursuing a legal right to remedy habitability issues.

Eviction notice posted on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 1: Landlord Serves Notice to Tenant

A landlord can begin the eviction process in Pennsylvania by serving the tenant with written notice. The notice must be delivered by one of the following methods:

  • Giving it to the tenant in person;
  • Leaving a copy of the notice at the “principal” building on the rental property; or
  • Posting a copy in a conspicuous place at the rental unit.

It is important for a landlord to always maintain a copy of the signed and served notice as proof of proper service of notice. 

10-Day Notice to Quit (Nonpayment)

If a tenant is late on paying rent (full or partial) in Pennsylvania, the landlord can serve them a 10-Day Notice to Quit. This notice gives the tenant 10 calendar (including weekends and legal holidays) to vacate the premises without the chance to fix the issue.

30-Day Notice to Quit (No Lease/End of Lease)

For a tenant who has lived at the rental unit for 1 year or more with no lease or a month-to-month in Pennsylvania, the landlord must serve them a 30-Day Notice to Quit to end the tenancy. This eviction notice allows the tenant 30 calendar days to move out.

However, for tenants that have lived at the rental unit less than 1 year, the amount of notice differs:

Rent Payment Frequency Notice Amount
Tenancy Less Than 1 Year 15 Days
Tenancy More Than 1 Year 30 Days

15-Day Notice to Quit (Lease Violation -Tenancy Less Than 1 Year)

In Pennsylvania if a tenant who has lived at the rental unit less than 1 year commits a violation of the terms of their lease or legal responsibilities as a tenant, the landlord can serve them a 15-Day Notice to Quit. This eviction notice gives the tenant 15 calendar days to move out without the chance to fix the issue.

30-Day Notice to Quit (Lease Violation- Tenancy More Than 1 Year)

In Pennsylvania if a tenant who has lived at the rental unit more than 1 year commits a violation of the terms of their lease or legal responsibilities as a tenant, the landlord can serve them a 30-Day Notice to Quit. This eviction notice gives the tenant 30 calendar days to move out without the chance to fix the issue.

10-Day Notice to Quit (Illegal Activity)

If a tenant commits an illegal activity in Pennsylvania, the landlord can serve them a 10-Day Notice to Quit. This notice gives the tenant 10 calendar to vacate the premises without the chance to fix the issue.

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

Eviction Complaint Filed on iPropertyManagement.com

Step 2: Landlord Files Lawsuit with Court

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.

Eviction Court Hearing on iPropertyManagement.com

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.

Eviction Writ of Possession on iPropertyManagement.com

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.

Eviction property possession returned on iPropertyManagement.com

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.

If the tenant remains on the property on the 11th day following the service of the order for possession the officer executing the order for possession shall use such force (i.e., breaking the door) as necessary to enter the property.

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

In Pennsylvania, an eviction can be completed in 1 to 2 months but can take longer depending on the reason for eviction, whether the eviction is contested, which days courts are (or aren’t) in session and other various possible delays.

Below are the parts of the Pennsylvania eviction process outside the control of landlords for cases that go uncontested.

Step Estimated Time
Initial Notice Period 3-30 Calendar Days
Court Issuing/Serving Summons  ~3 Business Days
Court Ruling 7-10 Business Days
Court Serving Writ of Possession 5 Business Days
Final Notice Period 10 Calendar Days
Questions? To chat with a Pennsylvania eviction attorney, click here

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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