Even when there is no written lease between a landlord and a tenant, there is still a tenancy. As a result, landlords may evict tenants in Pennsylvania even if there is no formal agreement between the parties. In Pennsylvania, landlords may evict tenants for a number of reasons, most commonly for failure to pay rent.
The eviction laws in Pennsylvania for a tenancy with no lease agreement are the same as those for tenancies with a written lease.
Grounds for Eviction
In Pennsylvania, a landlord may evict a residential tenant for failure to pay rent or habitual late payment of rent, destruction or damage willfully made to the rental property, habitual disorderly conduct, violations of terms of the agreement of the parties or if the tenant is convicted of a drug offense.
Process to Evict in Pennsylvania
A landlord must first give a tenant written notice of a lease violation, even when a lease is oral and unwritten. If the tenant fails to correct the situation, the landlord may then file an eviction lawsuit with the court. Additionally, Pennsylvania law requires tenants and landlords to be represented by attorneys during eviction matters.
Notice to Vacate
A landlord cannot evict without first serving a Notice to Vacate. Where the eviction is for failure to pay rent, then the tenant must be given 10 days' notice to vacate the property. For other lease violations, 15 days’ notice must be given if the lease term is for one year or less, and 30 days' notice if the lease term is for more than one year. Pennsylvania law requires the eviction notice to be hand delivered or posted in a conspicuous place at the leased premises, for example, nailed to the front door. Notice by any kind of mail is not sufficient.
Eviction Lawsuit in Magisterial District Court
If the tenant fails to leave after receiving a properly served Notice to Vacate, the landlord can head to the magisterial district court for the district in which the property sits (note that in Philadelphia County, the court is the Municipal Court). The tenant will be served a copy of the complaint and given a hearing date. If the tenant does not appear or has no defenses, the court will enter an order in favor of the landlord and permit the eviction. The order will give the tenant at least 10 days to leave the premises, and if she stays longer than permitted by the order, the county sheriff can forcibly remove her from the property.