The Landlord/Tenant relationship is formed once the lease is signed. Once formed, the relationship is governed by the Landlord & Tenant Act of 1951 (68 Pa CS 250.101 et seq.) and the PA Rules of Civil Procedure for Magisterial District Judges. The lease will identify the parties, the location of the property, the amount of rent, the term, or length of time, of the lease, where and to whom to pay rent, what utilities each party pays, the late fee, security deposit, appliances and furnishings, pet agreement, and who provides lawn care and snow and ice removal. The relationship will end at the expiration of the lease upon 30 days notice of non-renewal, or upon abandonment by the tenant, or upon eviction by the landlord. With over 25 years of experience as a Delaware County landlord tenant attorney in Boothwyn, our law office is available to help you with your legal matters.
Michael T. Malarick is an experienced Delaware County landlord tenant lawyer located in Boothwyn, PA. The law office of Michael T. Malarick handles landlord tenant cases in and around Delaware County, Philadelphia, Boothywn, Marcus Hook, Upper Darby, Aston, Garnet Valley, Springfield, Drexel Hill, Havertown, Upper Chichester, West Chester, Media and more.
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In Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, the main reason a landlord evicts a tenant is the non-payment of rent. Other violations of the lease agreement justifying eviction are: continual late payment of rent, end of lease damage beyond normal wear an tear,using the property for purposes not permitted, keeping a non-service animal pet when not permitted, unreasonable noise that disturbs neighbors, failure to keep the lawn maintained if required, improper storage of trash, and failure to abide by proper rules and regulations in the lease.
The eviction process cannot begin without notice. If the eviction is simply based on the expiration of the lease agreement, whether month to month, yearly, or longer, the notice requirement is 30 days. If the eviction is based on the tenant’s failure to pay rent or based on a drug conviction, the notice requirement is 10 days.
Notice is provided in the form of a ‘Notice To Quit’. A tenant attorney can insure that the tenant’s Notice To Quit was properly written and properly served on the tenant. The Notice To Quit form communicates the landlord’s intention to begin eviction proceedings. The Notice To Quit must contain the reason for serving the notice and the amount of time the tenant has to correct the issue. The problem must be clearly stated on the Notice To Quit.
Eviction cases are filed in, and initially heard at, the Municipal or District Court level. Once the complaint is filed in court, an eviction hearing will be scheduled in approximately 7 to 15 days. After the lawsuit is heard, the District Justice will enter judgement within 3 days. Once the judgement has been filed, a Landlord will obtain an Order of Possession 10 days later. Once the Order of Possession is served, a Constable can execute on it and evict the occupants if they remain on the premises beyond the 10 day period.
The District Court judgement can be appealed. If the judgement is for possession of residential property, an appeal must be taken within 10 days. If the judgement is for money or possession of non-residential property(such as a garage or shop), an appeal must be taken within 30 days.
In order for a tenant to appeal the eviction order of the District Court, the tenant must file a de novo appeal in the Court of Common Pleas and pay into court the amount of rent in arrears or 3 months rent, whichever is less. Also, the tenant must deliver the notice of appeal to the District Court and serve a copy on the landlord. At this point, the District Justice may grant an Order of Supersedeas which will stop the eviction process. Without a Supersedeas, eviction will continue with only the dollar amount of the judgement appealed. Also, the tenant must pay into the court’s escrow account the monthly rent during the course of the appeal. If the tenant fails to pay rent into the court’s escrow account, the landlord can terminate the Supersedeas and proceed with the eviction.
Throughout the course of the landlord/tenant dispute, a thorough tenant lawyer can assess the legal and financial issues in order to seek reasonable solutions to the litigation.
Tenants and Renters Rights
While the nuts and bolts of PA Landlord/Tenant Law may seem stacked in favor of the property owner, in 1978, The PA Supreme Court announced the Implied Warranty of Habitability rule. This rule states that: the covenants and warranties in the lease are mutually dependent; the tenant’s obligation to pay rent and the landlord’s obligation by the implied warranty of habitability to provide and maintain habitable premises are, therefore, dependent and a material breach of one of these obligations will relieve the obligations of the other so long as the breach continues. Pugh v. Holmes,405A2d 897 (1978).
Later that year, the PA Superior Court determined that the implied warranty of habitability cannot be waived by an “as is” clause in the renting agreement. Fair v. Negley, 257 Pa. Super 50 (1978). The Fair court stated that “an attempted waiver of the implied warranty of habitability in residential leases is unconscionable and must be held to be ineffective. Fair, ibid.
In essence, a residential rental unit is habitable if it is safe, sanitary, and fit. A tenant’s lawyer can help determine whether a housing unit has breached the implied warranty of habitability. Generally, serious defects, as opposed to cosmetic defects, are required in order to show that a residential unit is uninhabitable. A serious defect is the lack of hot or cold running water, a lack of security or working locks, a lack of a heating source,a leaking roof, unsafe floors or stairways, unsafe electric wires, or an insect or rodent infestation.
There are five remedies to a breach of the implied warranty of habitability. These are: 1) terminate the lease, 2) withhold all or part of the rent, 3) repair and deduct, 4) file a legal action to get the cost of repair or the rent rebated, and 5) file an injunction to force ownership to repair the problem. The repair and deduct remedy only applies to those repairs that are reasonable and necessary. A tenant’s lawyer can assist the occupant in seeking the proper remedy.
There is a proper procedure to follow when seeking to correct a breach of the implied warranty of habitability. A tenant’s attorney can assist the occupant with the process. First, the occupant must show that the defect interfered with the habitability of the residence. Second, the occupant must notify the property owner in writing of the occupant’s complaints. Third, the occupant must allow a reasonable time for the owner to make the repair. Fourth, the owner must have failed to make the repair.
The owner may not retaliate against the resident who pursues valid legal claims afforded by the implied warranty of habitability, or who complains to local governmental entities such as the building inspector or health inspector. Acts of retaliation may consist of terminating the lease, eviction, rent increase, or a decrease of services. PA law plainly states that it shall be unlawful for the owner to take reprisals against the resident who exercised his rights. If so, the resident’s damages are two months rent or actual damages whichever is greater, plus costs and attorney fees. The law presumes there to be a rebuttable presumption of reprisal if the owner acts within 6 months of the resident asserting their rights. This presumption does not hold if the notice of termination is for unpaid rent.
An experienced landlord tenant’s lawyer should be consulted to handle tenant’s disputes in a reasonable, compassionate manner.
Other Areas of Practice
- Delaware County Subrogation Attorney
- Delaware County Slip and Fall Lawyer
- Delaware County Wills and Estates Attorney