I.) General Overview
The foundation of any Landlord / Tenant relationship is the contract between the parties referred to as the Lease Agreement. Most Landlord / Tenant relationships involve written contracts or leases, but verbal agreements may also be binding and enforceable.
Therefore, it is imperative for anyone entering into a Landlord / Tenant relationship to have an attorney review their lease. A poorly worded lease can mean the difference between winning and losing a Landlord / Tenant dispute. We at AAAL – Allegheny Attorneys At Law, P.C. will have a Pittsburgh Landlord Tenant Attorney sit down with you and explain the benefits and pitfalls to your lease obligations whether you are a Property Owner or Tenant.
Under Pennsylvania law, in order to legally evict tenants or recover any funds paid under a lease, you are required to go to court. If you attempt this without counsel, you may unknowingly miss out on recovering all that you deserve. You could even subject yourself to civil or criminal liability by engaging in the unlicensed practice of law! Grounds for eviction include:
- nonpayment of rent;
- end of lease term; and / or,
- material breach of the lease agreement.
If a Landlord or property owner personally and forcefully evicts a Tenant without obtaining a proper Order of Possession, he or she can be held civilly responsible for any and all related damages to the Tenant. This type of action is referred to as Self-Help Eviction and in Pennsylvania such evictions are ILLEGAL! In order to comply with the law, Landlords are required to do the following:
- Provide to a Tenant Notice to Vacate in compliance with the lease and / or Landlord and Tenant Act prior to filing any legal action in court.
- File an action in court seeking an order of possession. Landlords can seek rent and other monetary damages from the Tenant at this time or in a subsequent suit with the court.
- Upon obtaining an Order for Possession, a property owner must give appropriate notice under Pennsylvania law and allow the Tenant at least ten (10) days, if residential, or fifteen (15) days, if commercial, to vacate the premises.
- On the eleventh (11) day or the sixteenth (16) day, a property owner can then have the local Constable or Sheriff remove any remaining persons from the property.
- PLEASE REMEMBER if a Tenant appeals the determination of the initial Court within ten (10) days after the initial hearing, an Order of Court may be suspended, pending the appeal process!
III.) Landlord / Property Owner Rights:
The rights of Landlords and Tenants are dictated both by the terms of the Lease and Pennsylvania Law. For Property Owners and Landlords, these rights generally include the right to:
- Right to receive monthly Rental obligations;
- Right to receive rent on time;
- Right to have a Tenant sign a written lease;
- Right to have a Tenant move out on time;
- Right to money damages for any damage done to your property;
- Right to conduct safety inspections on the property (if mentioned in the lease.)
- Right to request an initial security deposit;
- Right to terminate lease (under certain conditions and situations)
- Right to withhold a security deposit if damage is done to the property;
- Right to request a credit check;
- Right to Appeal the Initial Court determination!
IV.) Tenant Rights:
For Tenants, rights generally include the right to:
- Right to request a lease be placed in writing;
- Right to a Habitable Environment;
- Right to Safe and Clean Housing;
- Right to Privacy;
- Right to Inspect the property before signing any lease;
- Right to stay in the residence for the duration of the lease;
- Right against any Self-Help Eviction;
- Right to a return of the Security Deposit within 30 days after vacating the residence;
- Right against any rent increase during the lease period;
- Right to terminate the lease (under certain conditions and situations);
- Right to a Court hearing prior to any Eviction!
- Right to Appeal the initial Court hearing!
We at AAAL – Allegheny Attorneys At Law, P.C. have a Pittsburgh Landlord Tenant Attorney with the knowledge and experience to walk you through this difficult and frustrating field of law and will help you through any Landlord / Tenant problem(s) you may encounter. Please feel free to contact us at your earliest convenience at 412.426.3321 or at Marc@AlleghenyAttorneys.com.