If you are a landlord in Pennsylvania, it is entirely possible that you will, at some point, find it necessary to evict a tenant. This may occur whether you are an individual renting a single dwelling or the owner of a company that owns several apartment buildings. In either case, you have to know a great deal about real estate law to handle the situation. When potential evictions and other legal matters that may lead to a lawsuit arise, it is crucial that you engage the services of an experienced real estate litigation attorney. In the vicinity of Reading, there is no better choice than Gary R. Swavely, Jr.
The Law Office of Gary R. Swavely, Jr. keeps current with real estate legislation and has the well-honed skills necessary to assist you with any and all eviction proceedings and problems.
The laws regarding evictions may at first seem simpler than they are.
Landlords may evict tenants for the following reasons:
- The tenant has not paid rent
- The tenant’s lease is up and the landlord does not want to renew
- The tenant is renting with an oral lease on a month-to-month basis (in which case the landlord can evict at the end of any month for any reason, or for no reason at all)
- The tenant has violated the terms of the lease (e.g. by bringing a dog into a pet-free apartment or refusing to pay for property he/she has damaged)
How much notice must be given before an eviction?
If you are evicting a tenant for nonpayment of rent, you must give 10 days notice. However, if you are evicting your tenant for another reason, you must provide 15 days notice for a tenant with a lease for 1 year or less, and 30 days notice if the lease is for more than 1 year. Typically, if a tenant is being evicted for nonpayment, back rent may be paid during the notice period.
When Eviction Is Not a Legal Option
While in past generations the landlord most often came out ahead in eviction proceedings, the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 has given current tenants a number of significant protections under the law. Since that time, tenants cannot be evicted for reasons considered discriminatory, such as:
- Religion or religious expression
- National origin or ancestry
- Family status (including pregnancy)
- Disability or having a support animal
Other unacceptable reasons for eviction include:
- Non-payment of rent based on health or safety issues in the home
To clarify, retaliatory evictions occur when a tenant is targeted for withholding rent because the rented space is unfit for habitation since, for example, it:
- Is infested with rodents or mold
- Has no heat or hot water
- Does not have a working stove
- Has an unrepaired leak
- Has a broken step or banister
Evictions are also considered retaliatory if they are linked to complaints the tenant has made to a housing authority or follow a personal injury claim filed by the tenant against the landlord.
Why do I need a well-informed real estate litigation attorney if I have to evict a tenant?
There are a number of reasons it is essential to work with a competent real estate litigation attorney when you’re a landlord fighting to evict one of your tenants. These include:
- Numerous legal rules have to be followed and documents have to be filed
- The cards may be stacked against you since judges are generally reluctant to put people out of their homes
- The tenant fighting the eviction may already have an attorney strategizing against you
- The tenant may appear worthy of extra sympathy in the courtroom as a veteran, an elderly or disabled person or a single parent
- The tenant may sue you for illegal discrimination which could cost you a high price in penalties, attorneys’ fees, and reputation if you lose
- The tenant may sue you for personal injury (e.g. falling due to crumbling outdoor steps, having contract a lung infection due to mold) which could cost you an enormous amount
A keen real estate litigation attorney like Gary Swavely has the tactical skills necessary to level the playing field and protect your rights. For over 25 years, he has been fighting for clients like you, and has a remarkable track record of success.