Landlord And Tenant Law | Latoison Law | Media, PA
Why Latoison Law:
The real estate business is a very good business, but at times it can come with legal challenges. We are the highly reputable law firm Latoison Law. Our law firm has a reputation for being aggressive trial attorneys who fight hard for our clients. Our senior Attorney, Enrique Latoison, Esq., is also a Landlord and Property Manager and owns over forty properties, so we uniquely understand the issues that landlords deal with.
Our firm handles and has significant experience with all types of landlord and tenant issues in Delaware County and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, from evictions and appeals to the Court of Common Pleas, to security deposit disputes, lease drafting, notices to quit, demand letters, payment arrangement contracts, judgment filings, title transfers, agreements of sale, real estate civil claims, quiet title actions, lease to buy agreements, and other real estate related legal issues.
Our clients include individual owners of rental properties, property management companies, apartment complexes and mobile home parks. We also offer bulk discounts for landlords or companies who own multiple rental properties.
Latoison Law would like to set up an attorney relationship with you, and would like to be your firm for all of your legal needs. Give us a call at 610.999.1439 to schedule a meet and greet appointment. Our office is conveniently located at 212 West Front St., directly across the street from the Delaware County Courthouse. You will receive high quality, experienced representation.
The Eviction Process in Pennsylvania:
If your tenant falls behind on the rent, commits another breach of the lease, or refuses to vacate the property after the expiration of the lease, Pennsylvania law requires you to follow a specific eviction process. Failure to follow this process and to evict your tenant legally could result in your forfeiture of the unpaid rent and even in you owing the tenant damages. Therefore, it is very important that you have a lawyer who can ensure that you get your tenant evicted legally and as efficiently as possible.
First, the Pennsylvania Landlord and Tenant Act requires landlords to provide the tenant with notice that a breach of lease has occurred and that the landlord plans to file for eviction. The Act provides different notice periods depending on the reason for the eviction.
Next, the landlord must file a landlord-tenant action in the Magisterial District Court for the district in which the property is located, and a hearing will be scheduled. The hearing is the landlord’s opportunity to show the judge why he or she should grant a monetary judgment for rent owed, as well as grant possession of the property to the landlord. The tenant will be served with notice of the hearing, and will have an opportunity to present any defenses he or she may have.
Based on the evidence presented by both parties at the hearing, the judge will make a decision within three days. The judge can decide that there is no legal basis to evict the tenant and find in favor of the tenant. Even if the tenant has failed to pay rent, the judge may decide that the tenant was entitled to withhold rent or to a rent abatement based on the landlord’s failure to keep up with repairs to the property. Alternatively, the judge may find in favor of the landlord by granting a pay-to-stay judgment or outright possession.
After the appeal period passes, a landlord who was victorious at the hearing must then file a Writ of Possession, along with the required filing fees. Finally, if the tenant still refuses to vacate the property, the landlord can file to have the tenant forcibly removed by a constable or sheriff.
Landlords should remember that failure to follow the eviction process required by the Pennsylvania Landlord and Tenant Act correctly can lead to the inability to get possession of the property back from the tenant and to a long, drawn-out eviction. Our office will ensure that you get your tenant evicted as quickly as possible.
The way the Landlord and Tenant laws are actually applied varies from county to county and municipality to municipality throughout the state of Pennsylvania. You need a lawyer who is familiar with the different practices of each Magisterial District Court and can efficiently and quickly navigate the system for you.
What to do when your tenant appeals to the Court of Common Pleas:
Our firm understands the frustration that many landlords feel after they have prevailed against a tenant in Magisterial District Court, only to feel let down by the system after their tenant appeals to the Court of Common Pleas and attempts to stay in the property without paying rent to the landlord for the length of the appeal (which can be up to 1 year!). When the tenant appeals, the eviction process completely starts over, and the judgment you obtained in District Court has little or no meaning.
However, there is hope! We have a lot of experience fighting against tenants who appeal and continue to possess rental property, and know how to move the case forward to prevent you from having to wait up to a year for an arbitration date while the tenant stays in the property. While some landlords feel that they can handle the eviction process in District Court by themselves, it is nearly impossible to fight a case without an attorney once it has gone to the Court of Common Pleas. The appeal process includes many deadlines, and the parties must file pleadings and engage in discovery leading up to the arbitration date.
Don’t delay! You are required to respond to the tenant’s appeal, and this process is time sensitive. Contact my office to set up an appointment. We will give you a fair price and work immediately to strike the appeal and evict your tenant. Everyday your tenant stays in your property without paying is one more day you are losing money and could be re-renting your property to a new tenant.
Options for Tenants
Our office also represents tenants fighting unlawful evictions, and tenants seeking return of their security deposit or rent abatement.
Warranty of Habitability:
When you pay your rent on-time every month, you expect timely repairs and to be able to maintain a safe and comfortable home. However, sometimes tenants unfortunately find that their landlord fails to properly maintain the property and even breaches the Warranty of Habitability that is implied in all residential leases.
Under the Warranty of Habitability doctrine, landlords are obligated to maintain residential rental properties in a manner that is safe and sanitary, usable for its intended purpose, and does not interfere with the tenant’s health. Clear breaches of this warranty include lack of running, drinkable water and lack of working heat in the winter months. Multiple, more minor defects, when taken together, may also constitute a landlord’s breach of the Warranty of Habitability. For example, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that there was a breach of the warranty for one tenant who complained of improper ventilation of a gas heater, falling plaster, defective wiring, broken porch steps and railings, a leaking roof and defective windows.
Whether the Warranty of Habitability has been breached is determined on a case by case basis. A court would likely consider the existence of housing code violations and the length of time for which the defect has existed when deciding whether a breach has occurred.
If you are a tenant who believes that your landlord has breached the Warranty of Habitability, you must notify your landlord of the defects you believe exist, and give the landlord a reasonable opportunity to make the needed repairs. If the landlord still fails to do so, you may be entitled to a variety of remedies including reduction in the amount of rent that you owe your landlord or early termination of your lease. You generally also have the right to make needed repairs yourself and then deduct the cost from your rent. If you would like to pursue a case for rent abatement against your landlord, contact the Media, PA attorneys at Latoison Law.
Rent Withholding Act:
Pennsylvania law also gives tenants the option of withholding rent and placing it in an escrow account if the rental property is declared Unfit for Human Habitation by a code enforcement agency. Tenants may withdraw rental money from escrow to make necessary repairs to the property.
Any tenant who wishes to withhold rent because of their landlord’s breach of the Warranty of Habitability or because the property was deemed unfit for human habitation by a code enforcement agency should place their rent in an escrow account monthly, should keep a record of these deposits, and should provide notice of such to the landlord.
In general, tenants should also put all communications with and complaints to their landlord in writing, and should keep careful documentation and photographs of problems or defects in the property.
Don’t seek justice alone! Call the attorneys at Latoison Law Office. We can help you to fight your landlord in court and get the outcome you deserve.