Have a Tenant Violating Their Lease?

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All landlords out there—listen up!

By Frank D. Mroczka, Esq.

In Pennsylvania, the Landlord/Tenant Act(“Act”) governs your rights where you have a tenant that either fails to pay you your rent due and owing, or they violate a lease term. It also governs ongoing operations of yourself and the tenant. Succinctly stated: Your rights—and that of the tenant, are governed by the Act. Here’s why:

Mostly, I get cases where the tenant either failed to pay rent or violated the terms of the lease. There is, however, another situation where a lease term actually ends. That affects your rights as a landlord from the date of lease termination.

In Pennsylvania, the termination of a lease due to its ending date is treated differently in the law from just failure to pay rent. If you fail to pay rent, the magistrate judgment could give you a favorable judgement for the tenant’s failure to pay rent, and in such case a magistrate may give the tenant the opportunity to pay the delinquent rent up to the day of forcible eviction by a constable pursuant to an Order for Possession issued by the magistrate. This, in the vernacular, is called a “Pay to Stay” order. This means: If the tenant comes up with the money at the time prior to forcible eviction, the case essentially and legally reverts back to the terms of the lease (written or verbal) and the parties are placed back to the time prior to default as if the default in payment never occurred. Should a subsequent default occur, a new action would have to be filed.

Not so with violation of terms of the lease or end of term evictions. In these situations, an Order of Possession does not trigger “Pay to Stay,” but gives the landlord the right to proceed with repossession of the property in accordance with the Act—and if no appeal is filed by the tenant within 10 days of the possession order (30 if rent), an order of possession will be applied for and granted, and a date and time for physical delivery of possession will be set by the court—i.e.., where the constable or sheriff physically removes the tenant(s) from the property). Don’t forget, a violation of lease can be for specific breaches of the lease such as failure to abide by a pet, drug or no-smoking policy. Once proven at the magistrate hearing, if no appeal of the order of possession is taken within 10 days, we would proceed to process an Order for Possession to remove the tenant(s).

Note: you must be present at the actual physical location of the leased property for the physical eviction and it would be a good idea to have a locksmith there to change the locks to the leased property, for if other keys were made and given out to third-parties, your property and assets could be seriously jeopardized as a result.

If there is a situation that needs a complaint to be filed in a landlord/tenant lawsuit, contact us at 717 657 7770, immediately for a free consultation.

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