Evicting a tenant after lease expiration? What every landlord should know.
Typically, a tenant will move out of their rental unit once their lease has officially ended. However, a tenant sometimes refuses to leave their unit even though their lease has expired. It is important that you, the landlord, know the correct procedures to follow if this situation happens to you.
You will not be able to call the police or physically force your tenant out of the rental unit he/she occupies. This is because under Pennsylvania’s Landlord and Tenant Act, a landlord is required to complete the following tasks before he/she can remove a tenant:
A. Provide your tenant with a ‘notice to vacate’ before filing an eviction action at the District Justice. This notice needs to either be personally handed to your tenant, posted conspicuously at your tenant’s premises, or by leaving it at the principal building at your tenant’s premises. The length of time given in this ‘notice to vacate’ (which is the amount of notice you give the tenant to leave the rental unit or else face an eviction action) will depend on whether your lease was oral or written, the length of the lease, and whether or not there is any language in your written lease dealing with this ‘notice to vacate’ requirement.
B. After you satisfy the ‘notice to vacate’ requirement, you, the landlord, need to file an eviction action at the District Justice. A hearing at the District Justice will be held within seven to fifteen days after you file the eviction action. The District Justice will decide after a hearing whether or not to evict your tenant.
C. Obtain an Order for Possession. If the District Justice decides to evict your tenant, and the tenant has not appealed and been given the right to stay in the rental unit during the appeals process, you as the landlord can obtain an ‘Order for Possession’. An ‘Order for Possession’ is an Order that is delivered by a constable, sheriff or other writ server to the tenant, giving the tenant a set date and time the tenant needs to leave his/her rental unit. After you the landlord obtain an Order for Possession, the tenant will be afforded at least ten more days to vacate the property.
Then, you have finally evicted your tenant who had refused to leave when his/her lease expired.
Please note that there are different eviction procedures when a landlord is evicting a tenant from a Mobile Home Park.
Laura Robbins of Laura Robbins Law, LLC practices landlord/tenant law in Central Pennsylvania, and also handles family law, District Justice small claims, and some consumer matters. She can be reached at (814) 234-1550.