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Our Comprehensive Guide To The Philadelphia Eviction Process

James Anderson

February 15, 2021

Reasons for eviction 

In any financial situation, both parties benefit from stable relations where payments are made on time. This relationship is especially relevant in renting real estate. 

It is not in the financial interest of the owner to start the Philadelphia eviction process. In fact, it is counter-productive. People want their rental properties to become a passive source of income. 

The expectation is that your extra house or apartment will quietly generate income on the sidelines while the property owner retires or engages in other business ventures. Many landlords have planned their retirement around this passive income source; thus, they are very protective of this long-term investment. 

Most landlords will dread having to evict a tenant but will do so if the situation calls for this measure.  The following points should guide landlords through the Philadelphia eviction process and instruct tenants on what behaviors to avoid. Overall, this knowledge stands to benefit both parties.

Here are a few reasons why a landlord would consider an eviction:

  1. Tenant not paying rent

A financial agreement represents the essence of the landlord-tenant relationship. A specified amount of money will is offered in exchange for the right and ability to occupy a property for a pre-determined amount of time. 

A lease agreement will be provided and signed, detailing the conditions of the deal. 

Laws regarding the eviction process can vary depending on the state. However, a tenant that refuses to pay rent is grounds for eviction wherever you may be in the world.

While some areas will allow the landlord to evict immediately, others require an obligatory written notice beforehand. The lease may specify how much time is available for the tenant to move out since receiving the eviction notice. 

The eviction notice itself contains details regarding the amount of money owed. It specifies that if the amount is not paid, the landlord will file for an eviction.

If the lease does not explicitly mention a timeline, Philadelphia law's default period is ten days.  It should also be mentioned that certain leases waive the right to a written notice. The tenant must be sure to check for such a clause before signing the lease. 

Oral agreements have no legal coverage, and the tenant is considered a squatter as soon as the landlord declares it to be so. 

It is not advantageous for the tenant to rely solely on handshake agreements. He/she will be at the whim of the landlord.

  1. Regular delays in the payment of rent

There are situations when the tenant doesn't necessarily skip rent payments, but he/she provides them at a later date. For most landlords, this isn't an issue if it doesn't happen too often. Yet, those who habitually make late rent payments risk receiving a Notice to Quit. 

Every rent contract has certain agreements specified on its pages. If the tenant does not meet these conditions, the landlord will send him/her this Notice to Quit. If the notice continues to be ignored and conditions are not fulfilled, the owner has the right to trigger the Philadelphia eviction process. 

  1. An excessive amount of damage

It is reasonable to expect that as any object ages, it will suffer some amount of wear and tear. This small amount of damage is inevitable.

While the tenant is held financially responsible for damage to the property, wear and tear are not included in the category of damage.  Loose doorknobs, bathroom fixtures losing their shine, carpet color fading due to washings, and a few barely noticeable scratches on hardwood floors will not cause any problems. 

Damage is seen as a category in itself, and it includes issues that are not naturally occurring. These issues can be the consequence of neglect or intentional actions.

Common problems include shattered bathroom mirrors, holes in doors or walls, pet damage ( urine stains, claw marks), broken toilet elements, or broken door locks and handles. 

As long as the damage is restricted to normal wear and tear, the landlord is obligated to give back the initial security deposit. However, he is free from deducting as much as he needs for intentional and culpable damage. 

  1. Issues with other residents and tenants

Disturbing other residents and tenants is a common problem, especially among those living in apartment buildings. The noise has to be high in order to be heard from house to house, considering that most homes are reasonably spaced.

Barkings pets, loud verbal arguments, or a constant high volume while watching TV or listening to music can cause neighbors to complain to the landlord.  It is the landlord's obligation first to present the tenant with a Notice to Quit. Once this warning shot is fired, and the behavior persists, the owner is free to file for eviction against his tenant. 

  1. The lease expires 

A lease is a temporary contract that will inevitably end. However, not all tenants are willing to comply with this reality. This refusal to leave gives the landlord carte blanche to file for an eviction. 

Even if the landlord does not mention renewing a lease, the tenant should bring it up. Living with an expired lease is similar to having a verbal agreement: the tenant has little to no legal rights. 

  1. Illegal activities 

While most evictions revolve around the terms of the lease, rent payments, or property damage, the tenant's behavior can also trigger such as process. 

If the person renting a property engages in illegal activity, the landlord will be well within his rights to start the Philadelphia eviction process. Details regarding this particular case depend on multiple factors such as the property's location and the leases' terms.

However, as a general rule, a drug-related activity provides sufficient reason for immediate eviction. It can be possible to end the lease in less than a day. 

Authorities are highly sensitive towards illegal activity and are very quick to respond to such offenses. The landlord is strongly encouraged to report any tenant that is breaking the law while renting their property.

  1. Tenants are not respecting the terms of the lease.

A lease is a contract with certain requirements and specifications. It also has an expiration date. Yet, the landlord can evict someone before it expires if they break the lease terms.

Here are just a few situations that can cause problems:

  • Pet ownership

Many tenants attempt to sneak in their pets and not declare them to their landlord. Most owners will allow pets for an extra pet charge or rent, a cost designed to offset the damage done by having animals live on the property. 

If left undeclared, the presence of these pets can be a reason for eviction.

Pet Can Trigger Philadelphia Eviction Process
  • Long-term guests

Long-term guests can create issues with your landlord. Be sure to specify the allowed period for visits and not attempt to keep their presence undisclosed. 

  • Illegal use of the home or apartment

Some tenants rent a property, then attempt to rent it out themselves for an increased price. This activity is illegal and provides grounds for eviction. 

Legal steps that must be taken to evict a tenant

Philadelphia Eviction Process

Despite his property ownership, the landlord cannot swiftly call the police and have the tenant removed. It is also not allowed for him/her to change the locks while the tenant is away. There is a legal process that must be followed between two parties that previously signed a lease.

Tenants must be careful to avoid a simple mistake: always sign a lease and never settle for a handshake deal. Those with lower financial status tend to settle for verbal agreements instead of a written contract. 

Some people find an apartment to rent using an agency. It is tempting to skip the agency's fee and the contract, to work out a deal with the landlord himself. The tenant may also be renting from a relative/friend and trusts the party to uphold their verbal agreement. However, relations can sour even with close relatives and lifelong friends. 

Regardless of the reason for neglecting to sign a lease, it is a mistake. In that situation, as far as the legal system is concerned, the renter is not protected. The landlord can trigger the Philadelphia eviction process with much greater ease, granted the lack of legal coverage. 

For example, many tenants find themselves evicted because someone simply offered their landlord more money.

If a lease is signed, the landlord cannot simply evict a tenant. There is a specific series of legal steps that must be followed. Failing to follow these steps will bring legal consequences upon the property's owner. 

If you are a landlord, it is best to check with your local laws regularly. Changes can occur, but these are the steps required for the Philadelphia eviction process as of the time of writing:

  1. Eviction notice

It is impossible to evict a tenant suddenly. The landlord is obligated to present his renter with an Eviction notice, otherwise known as a Lease Termination Notice. The notice will specify the remaining time allotted to the renter, granting some time to arrange the move.

Still, the tenant is not obligated to respect that date, and the landlord must take legal action to force you out. 

  1. Court Action

If a tenant is presented with an eviction notice but still refuses to move out, the landlord can file a Municipal court complaint in the form of an Eviction Complaint. This document should detail the reason for the eviction, in addition to details regarding the hearing. The time and date of the hearing will be specified. 

This Eviction Complaint is best-presented in-person for direct confirmation that it was received. Attaching it to the tenant's door is unreliable, and so is emailing it to him. Emails can quickly get buried in spam piles or seen as spam itself. 

  1. The court case

As previously mentioned, the Philadelphia eviction process hearing will most likely take place in your local municipal court. Cases in PA take place in Municipal court at 1339 Chestnut St, 6th Floor. If you are in other regions, be sure to verify the court's location. 

The tenant needs to know the exact location and floor because arriving late will cause him to lose the case. The landlord will be the winner by default. 

Once at the specified location, you can have a judge preside your hearing or sign a judgment by agreement. 

  1. Fighting the decision

Similar to most legal decisions, the tenant can appeal a decision that ruled against him. If the initial court date has an unfavorable result, that outcome can be contested.

Tenants have ten calendar days at their disposal to file their complaints.  The appeal must be sent to the Court of Common Pleas in City Hall, Room 296.

This can buy you time and delays the legal Philadelphia eviction process. Of course, you will not be evicted as long as if you keep paying rent. Legal procedures will not spare you from monthly rent payments. 

  1. The eviction process

If the landlord follows every necessary procedure and you lose both the court case and the appeal, it will be possible to evict you legally. The landlord-tenant officer will be within his rights to remove you from the property within 21 days.

As a tenant, if you notice any deviation from these steps, report them to the court authority. Only if strictly followed can the Philadelphia eviction process be considered legal. 

As the landlord, it would be a good idea to change the locks after the eviction. Given the contested nature of the process, it would be safer to invest in a new pair of keys.


Overall, this article provides you with a clear outline of the Philadelphia eviction process. Knowledge of the law can help both the tenant and the landlord, as ignorance regarding legislation can cause many disputes. 

If we are to summarize the entire piece in a simple phrase: Put everything in writing and follow all the steps.  When it comes to renting out property and evictions,  the process can be annulled by not following the rulebook. 

The law is rather simple to understand, and the legal procedures are not overly-complicated.

For more information on how to be a successful landlord, click here!

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