In Pennsylvania, landlords have the option of evicting a tenant who is late on their rent. This is how.
In Pennsylvania, a landlord may remove a tenant for failing to pay rent as soon as it is past due. Unless otherwise specified in the lease or rental agreement, rent is deemed late the day after it is due, and the landlord may serve an eviction notice on that day.
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In Pennsylvania, the timing of eviction notices for nonpayment of rent is important.
Unless otherwise stipulated in the lease or rental agreement, rent is normally payable on the first day of each month. In Pennsylvania, unless agreed upon in writing by the landlord and renter, there is no grace period for rent payments. This implies that if the landlord does not collect the rent payment on time, he or she may issue an eviction notice to the tenant, known as a Notice to Quit.
Rent is also payable on weekends and holidays, unless expressly agreed upon in the lease or rental agreement, even if the rent due date (such as the first of the month) falls on one of these days. If the due date comes on a weekend or holiday, some landlords may specify in the rental agreement that the rent would be due on the following business day. Rent is always due on the day mentioned in the lease or rental agreement, regardless of whether it is a weekend or holiday, unless this extension is specified in the agreement.
The tenant has ten days after receiving a Notice to Quit to pay the rent or vacate the leased property. The ten-day period starts when the notice is posted or provided to the renter. The ten-day period includes weekends and holidays. At the time the arrangement was established, the landlord and tenant might have agreed to a different time period under the lease or rental agreement. If the leasing agreement specifies a greater or shorter notice period, that time period must be observed. These are Pennsylvania state law requirements (see 68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. 250.501-(b) and (e)).
Eviction Notices in Pennsylvania Contain Information
The Notice to Quit must be in writing and include the following information:
date served on the tenant(s) name(s) and address of the tenant(s) rental unit reason for the notice (that the tenant failed to pay rent for a specified period of time)
entire amount of past-due rent, including any late fees, and where and to whom the rent and late fees should be paid
a statement that the tenant has ten days to pay the rent and late charges (the notice should specify the exact date by which this must occur) or move out, an ultimatum that the landlord may pursue legal action (an eviction lawsuit) if the tenant does not pay the entire rent within ten days or move, and a statement specifying how the notice was given to the tenant, either by giving the notice to the tenant or posting the notice on the tenant’s door.
If an eviction notice is lacking critical information, such as plainly instructing the tenant to either pay the rent and late fees or vacate, the eviction notice will be deemed invalid, and the ten-day notice period will not begin. The landlord would then have to issue the renter a fresh notice, resuming the ten-day deadline, and the notice would have to contain all of the preceding information (see Jankowski v. Orloske, 84 Pa. D&C 522 [Pa. Court of Common Pleas 1952].).
How Landlords in Pennsylvania Must Serve Eviction Notices
Under 68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. 250.501(f), the landlord has three choices for serving the Notice to Quit:
1. The landlord, or someone over the age of 18, may physically serve the notice on the renter.
2. The landlord may post the notice in the building where the tenant lives (for example, the notification can be taped to the tenant’s apartment door).
3. The landlord may post the notice in a location where the tenant would see it, such as a common area of an apartment complex or on the front gate of a property.
If the notice is not delivered directly to the renter, it is critical that it be put in a location where the tenant will see it. The notification cannot be hidden or concealed in any way (such as a mailbox). It must be prominently shown.
If the landlord fails to properly serve the notice, the landlord must generate a new notice and restart the procedure. The ten-day notice will not be effective unless the landlord serves the tenant in one of the three methods indicated above.
Tenant Options in Pennsylvania When Served With an Eviction Notice for Nonpayment of Rent
What occurs next is determined on the tenant’s reaction to the eviction notice.
If the renter pays the rent within ten days, the notice is null and invalid, and the tenant cannot be removed.
If the tenant fails to pay the rent but leaves within ten days, the landlord may utilize the security deposit (if any) to repay the unpaid rent.
If the security deposit does not cover the whole amount of rent owed, including late fees, the landlord may sue the renter for the amount still unpaid. The landlord may reclaim the rent by assumpsit (the tenant paying the landlord money) or hardship (meaning the tenant would give the landlord personal property equal to the amount owed to the landlord). See 68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. 250.301 and 302 for further information.
If the tenant does not pay the entire rent within ten days and does not vacate the premises, the landlord may file a summons and complaint with the court. This is known as an illegal detainer case.
Before a sheriff or constable may lawfully take control of the property, the landlord must win the illegal detainer case in court. It is critical that landlords avoid “self-help” actions (such as changing locks or turning off utilities) and follow the procedures for filing an illegal detainer complaint. 68 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. 502-504 has further information about filing a complaint. Under “Landlord,” the Pennsylvania court system offers complaint templates online at www.pacourts.us/forms/for-the-public.
Mobile Home Evictions
Evicting renters from mobile homes in Pennsylvania is governed by different state laws. See 68 P.S. 250.501-(c) and the state Mobile Home Park Rights Act for further information.