I'm a landlord with a tenant who is two months behind on his rent and is now in jail. The most recent month the rent was paid in full was June and that was a month late. On August 1st I served him with a pay or quit notice. On August 15th he agreed to move out by September 1st. That date came and went but he did not move out, he said that the lease he had set up fell through. On September 19th he told me he had secured a new lease and would move out the following weekend. On Sunday the apartment was still occupied by his possessions but not by him. I live in the same building and didn't see him for a week then found out on September 26th that he's been picked up on a warrant.
What are my options at this point to get him and his stuff out of the apartment? I don't even care about the back rent anymore because the man just doesn't have the money, I'm never going to see it I just want the apartment empty so I can rent it out again.
1 Answer from Attorneys
You have to evict him. Follow the procedure outlined in the PA landlord-tenant law, 68 PS§ 250.501 et. seq.. You cannot forcibly remove his possessions. You first have to evict and get a court order to be put back in possession. See 68 P.S. § 250.503 Hearing; judgment; writ of possession; payment of rent by tenant
(a) On the day and at the time appointed or on a day to which the case may be adjourned, the justice of the peace shall proceed to hear the case. If it appears that the complaint has been sufficiently proven, the justice of the peace shall enter judgment against the tenant:
(1) that the real property be delivered up to the landlord;
(2) for damages, if any, for the unjust detention of the demised premises; and
(3) for the amount of rent, if any, which remains due and unpaid.
(b) At the request of the landlord, the justice of the peace shall, after the fifth day after the rendition of the judgment, issue a writ of possession directed to the writ server, constable or sheriff, commanding him to deliver forthwith actual possession of the real property to the landlord and to levy the costs and amount of judgment for damages and rent, if any, on the tenant, in the same manner as judgments and costs are levied and collected on writs of execution. This writ is to be served within no later than forty-eight hours and executed on the eleventh day following service upon the tenant of the leased premises. Service of the writ of possession shall be served personally on the tenant by personal service or by posting the writ conspicuously on the leased premises.
(c) At any time before any writ of possession is actually executed, the tenant may, in any case for the recovery of possession solely because of failure to pay rent due, supersede and render the writ of no effect by paying to the writ server, constable or sheriff the rent actually in arrears and the costs.
Once the tenant leaves, if he leaves any property behind, follow the procedure set forth in 68
P.S. § 250.505a . Disposition of abandoned personal property
(a) At the time a tenant has relinquished possession of the real property, the tenant shall remove from the premises all items of the tenant's personal property. For the purposes of this section, a tenant shall be deemed to have relinquished possession of the premises upon any of the following:
(1) Execution of an order of possession in favor of the landlord.
(2) If the tenant has physically vacated the premises, removal of substantially all personal property and the providing of a forwarding address or written notice stating that the tenant has vacated the premises.
(b) Upon relinquishment of the premises under subsection (a) and the acceptance of possession of the real property by the landlord, the tenant shall have ten days to contact the landlord regarding the tenant's intent to remove any personal property remaining on the premises. If the intent is conveyed to the landlord, the personal property shall be retained by the landlord at a site of the landlord's choosing for thirty days. If no communication is made to the landlord within ten days, the property may be disposed of at the end of the ten days at the discretion of the landlord.
(c) If personal property remains on the premises following the relinquishment of the premises by the tenant, the following shall apply:
(1) If there is acceptance of the real property by the landlord under subsection (a)(1) and the writ or order of possession contained notice of the provisions under subsection (b), the landlord shall not be required to provide further notice to the tenant.
(2) If there is acceptance of the real property by the landlord under subsection (a)(2) and the lease or lease addendum contains notice of the provisions under subsection (b), the landlord shall be required to provide written notice to the tenant that personal property remains on the premises and must be retrieved by the tenant. The notice under this paragraph shall give the tenant ten days from the date of postmark of the notice to notify the landlord that the tenant will be retrieving the personal property. If the intent is conveyed to the landlord, the personal property shall be retained by the landlord at a site of the landlord's choosing for thirty days from the date of postmark of the notice. If no communication is made to the landlord within ten days, the property may be disposed of at the end of the ten days at the discretion of the landlord. The notice shall also include a telephone number and address where the landlord can be contacted and shall identify the location where such property can be retrieved. The notice shall be:
(i) sent by regular mail to the tenant's forwarding address, if provided, or, if no forwarding address is provided, then to the formerly leased premises; or
(ii) by personal delivery to the tenant.
(3) If the lease or lease addendum does not contain notice of the provisions under subsection (b), the landlord, in addition to complying with the requirements of paragraph (2), shall send notice to any emergency contact that may have been provided by the tenant in a lease agreement.
(4) Any notice required under this subsection shall also contain information that the tenant shall be required to pay costs related to the removal or storage of property retrieved by the tenant after ten days under subsection (f).
(d) At all times between the acceptance of the premises by the landlord and the expiration of the ten- or thirty-day periods, the landlord shall exercise ordinary care with regard to any personal property that the former tenant has left in or on the real property.
(e) After the appropriate time period under subsection (d) has expired, the landlord shall have no further responsibility to the former tenant with regard to the personal property and may, in the landlord's discretion, dispose of the property. If the personal property is sold and proceeds exceed any outstanding obligations owed to the landlord, the proceeds shall be forwarded to the tenant by certified mail. If no forwarding address has been provided to the landlord by the former tenant, the landlord shall hold the proceeds for thirty days and, if unclaimed, may retain the proceeds.
(f) If the landlord has issued the notice to the tenant under subsection (c), the landlord may choose to store the tenant's personal property at another location within reasonable proximity to the leased premises. If the landlord elects to have the property stored at another location, the landlord may remove the property from the premises by any means reasonably calculated to safeguard the property for the time period required under this section. A tenant shall not be required to pay any costs related to the removal or storage of the property by the landlord if the former tenant retrieves the personal property within ten days of the date of postmark of the notice. If the former tenant retrieves the personal property after ten days of the date of the postmark of notice but before thirty days, the tenant shall be required to pay any reasonable and actual costs related to the removal or storage of the property by the landlord for that time period.
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