How to Start an Eviction
This guide gives the landlord the basic knowledge of the steps to proceed with an eviction. This guide does not replace competent legal council. Always consult an attorney before proceeding on your own.
you must give the tenant notice - that is tell them , in writing that they must leave the premises. Eviction can be filed because of (1) non-payment of rent , (2) beach of a lease term or (3) drug usage. The notice must tell the tenant that they have a certain amount of days to leave or else you will file an eviction. The amount of days your notice must list will depend on the type of lease and the reason for the eviction. Consult an attorney for your specific case. You must serve the notice personally to the tenant or post it on the residence, first class mail or certified mail will not suffice under the rules. Do note that a flawed notice, either for content or for service, can be grounds to void the eviction and make you start the process again from the beginning. (You should keep in mind that a well drafted lease will legally waive the notice requirement , under the law, and allow you to proceed quicker.)
2.File an eviction.
If you have an attorney filing for you he or she can do so online. If you are not an attorney then you must file in the court house where the property is located. You will need to bring a copy of the lease (if there is one) , a copy of the notice, signed affidavit that you served notice, if it is a residential property then a valid rental license or if it is commercial property than a valid business license (if you do not have the appropriate license DO NOT file for the eviction until you get it because the court will not hear the case) and the filing fee which will depend on the amount in controversy. You will also need to fill out a complaint. The complaint is pretty straight forward and not too complicated. You will check off a few boxes , fill in damages and that's pretty much it.
3. Calculate the damages.
Make a list of what the tenant owes you from back-rent to utility fees , late fees and IF YOUR LEASE INCLUDES IT, attorney fees , if you have an attorney. (this is where a well drafted lease will again be a valuable tool because some lease drafts do not include attorney fees and therefore the court will not award them to you.) Based on the amount you claim that will determine the filing fee. ($90.00 for claims up to the $2,000.00 range and $112.00 for claims between $2,000 - $10,000.00 in PA - Check your local court for their fees)
4. Serve the complaint.
You must have the complaint served upon the tenant.
5. Show up to Court.
Go to court and explain to the judge that reason for eviction. If there is a dispute between you and the tenant , the judge may ask you and the tenant to step into a room and attempt peaceful reconciliation, which may include an agreement to "pay and stay." If you are unsuccessful in reaching an agreement then the judge will hear the case.
6. Order of possession.
If you win in court your tenant will have 10 days to leave the property. Do note that within the 10 days a defaulting tenant can pay and stay. If that happens the process will have to begin again if the tenant latter defaults on payments and requires eviction. If the tenant still does not pay and refuses to vacate the premises then you will need read part 2 of this list coming soon.