In Pennsylvania, there exists legislation referred to as the Landlord/Tenant Act that stipulates what landlords must follow when evicting a tenant. The law mandates landlords to obey it no matter the reason for eviction. However, the law may not apply to people staying in a guest room like a motel or hotel, or those in a boarding room (Feldman, 2016). In case the landlord attempts to evict a tenant without observing the rules and regulations as stipulated in the Landlord/Tenant Act, by taking measures like shutting off someone's utilities or changing the locks, the person has the right to contact the Office of the Consumer Protection to get help.
The Landlord/Tenant Act requires landlords to provide a written eviction notice. Eviction for non-payment of rent requires a ten-day written warning, while that for breach of lease or expiry of lease term involves the provision of a written notice within fifteen days (Feldman, 2016). The purpose of this paper consists of the assessment of the eviction process in Pennsylvania, the Landlord and tenant's position, and checking whether the process remains fair for both parties.
The landlord has to provide the tenant with a written notice according to the guidelines in the Landlord/Tenant Act. However, the Landlord/Tenant Act permits the alteration of the notice requirements or its waiver if the landlord and tenant reach an agreement which gets supported by a written lease (Bangs, 2017). After the expiry of the notice period, the landlord has to go to the Magisterial District Judge and file a Landlord/Tenant Complaint (Bangs, 2017). The Magisterial District Judge's office then schedules a hearing within seven to fifteen days from the date of complaint filing.
The tenant then receives the notice of the date and time for the hearing. The landlord may request for possession of the property, reimbursement for the unpaid rent, and damages to the utilities, during the trial. The Magisterial District Judge will give a verdict, either at the hearing or within three days after the trial (Bangs, 2017). The tenant will then receive the judgement through the mail. If the Magistrate District Judge awards the landlord with possession of the home, the landlord must wait ten days from the date of the issuance of the judgement, after that, the landlord must go back to the Magisterial District Judge to receive Order for Possession.
The tenant then receives the Order for Possession from sheriff's deputy or constable. The Order for Possession clarifies the date the tenant has to evacuate the premises. The evacuation date remains more than ten days from the day the Order for Possession get issued (Venkatu, 2016). If the tenant refuses or unable to move by the date outlined in the Order for Possession, a constable or sheriff's deputy will forcibly remove the tenant at that period.
Landlords in Pennsylvania must provide a written eviction before they can commence a legal action to evict a tenant. However, if the tenant has a written lease, and the contract specifies the eviction notice, then the landlord can begin the legal process to evict the tenant (Venkatu, 2016). Besides, if the tenant has no written lease or the lease does not give instructions regarding eviction notice, then the Landlord/Tenant Act provides various notice requirements.
In case the eviction does not involve failure to pay rent, the landlord must provide a fifteen days' notice if the lease term remained within one year or less. A leasing term of more than one year requires a thirty days' notice. However, a written lease allows for waiver or alteration of these notice requirements. Furthermore, the notification must exist in printed form and given to the tenant in person or through mail to the tenant's residential address (Stevens et al., 2020). The notice must state the reason for eviction. If there exists no written lease, the reason for removal can indicate that the landlord has made a decision not to renew the contract.
Besides, if the notice does not obey the law, the tenant can request the Magisterial District Judge, at the eviction hearing, to terminate the Landlord/Tenant Complaint filed by the landlord. In case the Magisterial District Judge dismisses the complaint, the landlord must provide the tenant with an appropriate eviction notice before filing another Landlord/Tenant Complaint (Desmond & Kinniburgh, 2018). The tenant has the right to waive their right to the eviction notice highlighted in the Landlord/Tenant Act. Therefore, it remains vital to read any lease the landlord offers to the tenant before pending a signature on the lease agreement. Tenants have the right not to sign the lease contract if it requires the tenants to waive their rights to notice under the Landlord/Tenant Act.
Several tenants sign a lease for their rental unit plan or apartment to stay for the full period required in the contract like one year. However, despite the tenant's best intentions, the tenant may require to evacuate before the expiry of their lease term (Desmond & Kinniburgh, 2018). For example, a student may decide to stay in their apartment just for the time the school remains in session.
Besides, couples moving in with their spouses, moving closer to a new job, or an older person requiring the care of their family may want to leave before their lease expires. Vacating the apartment before the expiry of the fixed-term without paying the remainder of the rent due refers to breaking the agreement. Pennsylvania laws allow breaking an agreement without further liability for the rent (Fink, 2017). A lease obligates both the tenant and the landlord for a set period, usually year. Under the standard contract, a landlord cannot increase the rent or alter the terms under the lease. The landlord must wait until the lease expires unless the rental has a provision for an alteration. Such alterations include raising of rent in the middle of the contract.
A landlord cannot force a tenant to evacuate before the lease ends, unless the tenant fails to pay the rent or violate another essential term, such as violating the rights of other tenants through loud music and unorganized parties. Under these circumstances, the landlord must follow specific processes to terminate the tenancy (Fink, 2017). For example, the landlord must provide a written ten days' notice to pay the rent or vacate before beginning a legal process. A breach of the lease agreement for more than one year, the landlord can give the tenant unconditional quit notice within thirty days.
Tenants have a legal obligation to pay rent for the full lease period, usually one year, whether or not they can continue to live in the apartment. The tenant may legally move out before the expiry of the lease term if the tenant has entered active military service after signing the lease. The tenant has the right to break the lease under federal law (Hatch, 2017). The War and National Defense Service Members Civil Relief Act protects individuals in the armed forces, commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the activated National Guard.
Tenants must provide the landlord with a printed notice of their resolve to end their tenancy for military reasons. The lease ends within thirty days of mailing the announcement, and the next rent should get paid, even if that date still exist several months before the expiry of the lease (Hatch, 2017). Besides, the tenant has the right to terminate the lease agreement when the landlord does not offer habitable housing under local and state housing codes. The court will judge that the tenant has terminated the tenancy contract under constructive eviction. Under such a situation, the landlord has provided unsafe rental units that violate Pennsylvania's health or safety codes. The tenant has no obligation. Therefore, to pay rent.
Pennsylvania law sets specific requirements for the process tenants must follow before vacating rental units due to considerable repair challenges. The problem must remain to sever to warranty such constructive eviction, such as lack of essential amenities (Hatch, 2017). Besides, Pennsylvania does not have provisions that specify the amount of notice the landlord must give to a tenant to enter rental premises. However, if the landlord continuously violates the rights of a tenant's privacy or harasses the tenant, then such harassment warranties a constructive eviction, that justifies the tenants breaking the lease contract without further rent obligation.
Landlords in various states within the country must make considerable effort to look for new tenants when the former tenant breaks a lease, rather than charge the tenant for the entire remaining rent due under the lease agreement. Unfortunately, landlords in Pennsylvania do not have the same obligation to mitigate damages by trying to rent their property reasonably fast and reducing their losses if a tenant breaks the lease contract (Irwin et al., 2019). Tenants need to provide their landlords with notice of vacating explaining why they need to leave the apartment before the expiry of the lease term.
If the tenant breaks the lease and vacate without legal justification, and does not work out an agreement with the landlord on moving out, the landlord can begin a legal redress. The tenant may have to pay a substantial amount of money if they move out several months before the expiry of the lease term (Irwin et al., 2019). The landlord may use the tenant's security deposit to cover the rent owed. In case the deposit cannot cover the amount, owed, the landlord can file for a lawsuit
Most business leases offer landlords with diverse remedies if a tenant defaults in paying rent. These remedies include a trial for past-due rent, the ability to terminate the tenant's right of possession, and the authority to accelerate future rent due under the lease (Irwin et al., 2019). The tenancy may also involve confession of judgments provisions and guaranty, giving landlords the right to recover from a tenant's principal or other entity (Irwin et al., 2019). Although many leases indicate that a landlord's rights remain cumulative, Pennsylvania legislation restricts which remedies a landlord can elect and recover.
Landlords cannot receive a double recovery of both court-commanded possession and accelerated rent. The law on double recovery inhibits a landlord from declaring the lease ended by the tenants' default, recovering property on the ground of that termination and hence receiving verdict for accelerated rent through the balance of the lease period (Hatch, 2017). The rule on double recovery may not apply when a tenant vacates the apartment. Under such conditions, the landlord has the right to repossess the physical property and re-rent the premise, without letting the original tenant leave without paying for the remaining period of the lease (Hatch, 2017). If the landlord decides to re-let the apartment without ending the former tenancy, the landlord must credit the rent from the new tenant against the rent due from the previous tenant.
Landlords must remain cautious to avoid a claim of surrender when communicating with a defaulting tenant that may prevent a landlord's right to future rent and damages. A legally appropriate submission requires both landlord's assent to such desertion and a tenant's relinquishment (Parkin, 2018). Approval by a landlord needs an explicit action that leaves no doubt that a tenant's surrender has received the required acceptance from the landlord.
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