Fiffik Law Group represents both landlords and tenants, but in this case, it was a tenant who needed our help.
A King of Prussia, Pennsylvania woman, who rented a single-family home with her elementary school-aged son, was being harassed by her landlord about alleged landscaping issues on the property. In most cases, landscaping is the landlord’s responsibility. Some leases, like our client’s, require the tenant to be responsible for normal maintenance, which includes things like cutting the grass and trimming the bushes. This woman’s landlord, however, was demanding she pay for landscaping well out of the scope of “normal” to the tune of $20,000. Despite the client explaining that redoing the entire yard was not her responsibility under the lease, the landlord ignored her protests and sent landscapers to begin work that she planned to bill to our client.
When the woman complained about the landscapers showing up unannounced (which is illegal – at least 24-hour notice is required unless the maintenance is an emergency) and still refused to pay, the landlord sent a threatening email telling her that the lease was terminated, and she needed to get out immediately. Not only did he have no grounds to evict her, but evictions are never immediate – Pennsylvania’s Landlord/Tenant Act outlines the legal process landlords must go through to evict a tenant, no matter the reason for the eviction.
Pennsylvania’s Eviction Process:
1. Landlord must provide the tenant with a written eviction notice.*
Eviction for non-payment of rent: 10 days
Eviction for other reason: 15 days
2. Landlord must file a Landlord Tenant Complaint to the Magisterial District Judge.
The judge's office will schedule a hearing in 7 to 15 days from the date the complaint is filed. At the heading, the landlord may ask for possession of the property and money for rent or damages.
The judge makes their decision either at the hearing or within three business day of the hearing.
3. Landlord must get an Order of Possession from the Magisterial District Judge.
The landlord must wait 10 days from the date the judgment is entered to get the Order of Possession.
The Order of Possession tells the tenant the day by which they must move out, which cannot be less than 10 days from the day the Order is issued.
4. The tenant must move out by the date listed on the Order of Possession.
If the tenant does not move by the specified date, then they will be forcibly removed by law enforcement.
*Written leases can change the notice requirements. You may not want to sign the lease if it requires you to waive your right to notice under the Landlord/Tenant Act. Never sign a lease before you (and preferably an attorney) carefully evaluate it. Call Fiffik Law Group to review your lease, answer your questions, and suggest any changes we feel will be beneficial to you.
Not wanting to fall victim to her landlord’s threats and intimidation, this woman called her Fiffik Law Group LegalShield provider attorney, Adie Kurtanich. Attorney Kurtanich wrote a letter to the landlord outlining Pennsylvania law, insisting that she drop the landscaping demands, and warning her not to retaliate. Upon receiving the letter, the landlord agreed not to pursue the issue further.
“This landlord clearly was trying to bully my client out in order to make more money, no matter what the lease or law said,” Attorney Kurtanich said.
The relationship between Attorney Kurtanich’ s client and the landlord remained icy but avoiding an unlawful bill for $20,000 and an eviction was an undeniable win for the client. It should not have taken a letter from an attorney for the woman to be treated fairly by her landlord, but unfortunately, there are always going to be people who will try to take advantage of others.
In cases like these, you need experienced legal representation to advocate for you and ensure your rights are protected. Fiffik Law Group's mission is to provide access to justice for all. If you are interested in becoming a LegalShield member, learn more here. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.