You don't need an attorney to evict a problem tenant in Philadelphia, but it's essential that you follow the proper procedure. Pennsylvania laws require you to give the tenant a written notice asking them to leave the property. If the tenant refuses, you will have to file a civil lawsuit and take the tenant to court.
Know the Law
Determine whether the eviction reason is valid. Philadelphia allows eviction orders for very specific reasons. Non-payment of rent is the most common reason. Breaching a lease term (i.e. no pets or no subletting) is another. Less common eviction reasons include terminating a month to month lease; illegal, destructive or disruptive activity; or abandonment of the property.
Serve an Eviction Notice
Send a written notice to the tenant. There is no specific form with the first notice, and it is not filed through Philadelphia courts. The written notice must contain the requested date to move out, the reason for terminating the tenancy and any way to fix the situation. A 10-day notice is used for non-payment unless the lease says something else. If you’re evicting a tenant for another reason, 15 days’ notice is required if the lease is for one year or less; or 30 days for longer leases. Send the notice via certified mail with return receipt requested to prove delivery.
Read More: How to Write an Eviction Notice for Tenants
File a Legal Compliant
Go to Room 500, 34 South 11th Street between normal business hours if the tenant does not leave your rental unit at the specified quit date. File a Complaint of Eviction form and provide copies of the rental agreement, written notice and your residential rental property license. All forms are found in Room 500, and there will be a small filing fee. An interviewer can assist you with the filing process, or your lawyer can handle the complaint forms. The interviewer must approve the complaint before it is filed. A hearing date will be set before you leave.
Serve the Complaint
Serve the tenant with the complaint. By Philadelphia law, you must hand deliver the complaint to the tenant or post a copy on the residence. The process server files out a Proof of Service form and can provide it directly to the court clerk or to you.
Go to Court
Attend the hearing. Bring copies of the lease agreement, the written notice, the filed complaint and any extra evidence proving the eviction reason. A default judgment is granted if the tenant does not show up. In most cases, the court rules in favor of the landlord. Errors during the filing and serving of paperwork can cause cases to get dismissed even if the eviction reason is valid.
Remove the Tenant
File for a Writ of Possession after 10 days if the tenant has still not left the residence. A sheriff will enforce the writ 11 days after it is served to the tenant. The sheriff removes the tenant from the residence and switches the locks so that the tenant cannot trespass into the residence.
Tiffany Garden has been a freelance writer since 2002, working in the commercial copywriting field. She has been published in a number of technical and gaming magazines, as well as on numerous websites. She also runs her own websites on a number of subjects, runs a handcrafted jewelry business and is a CompTIA A+ Certified computer technician.