The Guide to Eviction Moratoriums in Philadelphia: What Landlords Should Know - Article Banner

Evictions have always been complicated. As a landlord, you and your tenants are bound by a lease agreement, and in order to terminate that lease agreement and remove a tenant from your property, you need to have a good reason. Most evictions are done because the tenant has stopped paying rent. Whether you’re evicting for nonpayment of rent, a major lease violation, or some other reason, you need to follow the laws in order to regain possession of your property legally.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a temporary moratorium on evictions. Since that federal moratorium was lifted completely in Philadelphia and across the country in September of 2021, the courts have faced a backlog of evictions, but they have proceeded normally. Landlords had been free to evict tenants who were not paying rent or were found to be violating the lease. 

And then, the summer of 2023 rolled around, and evictions in Philadelphia were again put on hold. This time, for a much different reason. 

We’re exploring what happened, and what you need to know as a landlord today, especially if you find yourself needing to remove a tenant from your rental property

Why Were Evictions in Philadelphia Stopped?

The Landlord Tenant Office imposed a brief moratorium on evictions in Philadelphia after investigations revealed an excessive use of force during some evictions. Three people were shot in separate eviction incidents over the summer, one tenant was shot in the head during a North Philadelphia eviction. Another tenant was shot in the kneecap after allegedly threatening the eviction officer with a knife.

Many tenant advocates believed that these incidents were an excessive use of force by eviction officers and managed to get evictions paused for investigations and extra training.  

Evictions have been on the rise over the last year in Philadelphia. Depending on the experts you ask, this is due to a couple of things, including the backlog of evictions since 2020 and 2021, and the rising rental prices that have left many tenants unable to pay rent. According to one news story, 5% of all rental households received an eviction notice over the last year. 

The Landlord and Tenant Office has been responsible for evicting tenants for more than five decades, and they do so without any cost to Philadelphia taxpayers. Landlords pay them a fee, and that funds the eviction process on behalf of the Philadelphia Municipal Court. 

New Eviction Protocols and Trainings 

Evictions resumed in Philadelphia on August 21, 2023. The restart occurred after eviction officers underwent additional training and other protocols were put into place. Here’s what happened at The Landlord and Tenant Office while evictions were on hold:

  • Eviction officers underwent additional training on the use of force and de-escalation.
  • Evictions now require teams of two eviction officers. At least one of those officers must have undergone all the training required for certified Pennsylvania constables. 
  • Tenant advocates are informed that evictions are scheduled. Tenants will know the date and time of their scheduled evictions because that information will be loaded into the court docket.
  • Constables have been sworn in from suburban Philadelphia communities to increase the number of people available for evictions in the City.
  • Landlords will need to submit an affidavit before the eviction is scheduled, including any information that may be relevant that did not come to light previously. An effort must be made to resolve those issues before the eviction is scheduled. 
  • If unexpected issues arise during the eviction, officers are instructed to cease and desist in the interest of safety. The eviction will then be rescheduled once those issues are resolved. 

Something that you will find especially as a landlord is that the cost of an eviction is now increasing when it comes to the use of The Landlord and Tenant Office. While their fee was previously $145, it will now be $350 to cover the costs of additional staff and training as well as rising insurance costs. 

What This Means for Your Eviction in Philadelphia

You can go ahead with evictions in Philadelphia. While the process has become a bit more complex and time consuming, the moratorium has been lifted, and residential evictions are moving forward. 

The first thing you’ll need to do in order to evict is to serve your tenants a written notice. If you’re evicting for nonpayment of rent, you’ll need to serve a 10 Day Notice unless your lease specifies a different notice period. 

Once the notice period comes and goes, if the tenant still has not paid the rent, you will need to file the formal eviction paperwork. You’ll file this complaint in court, and the court will send a copy to your tenants via U.S. mail, with instructions on when to show up in court for the eviction hearing. 

The next steps will depend on whether the tenant shows up in court, and how they respond to your complaint. You might find yourself negotiating with your tenant, attending mediation, or obtaining a Writ of Possession from the judge. 

The Writ of Possession will typically give the tenant 11 days to move out. If the tenant still does not move out on their own, you’ll need to go back to court to get an Alias Writ of Possession. At that point, a Landlord-Tenant officer or a Sheriff will physically remove the tenant from your property. Hopefully without incident. 

Evictions in Pennsylvania require a lot of attention to detail and a careful following of the law. We always recommend that rental property owners in Philadelphia partner with a property manager or an experienced landlord/tenant attorney before evicting a tenant. The moratorium is over, but the events that led up to this moratorium illustrate how precarious a situation this can be. 

Contact Property ManagerLet’s talk about how to avoid eviction and what to do if it becomes necessary. Contact us at Innovate Realty. We work with investors and their properties in the greater Philadelphia metro area as well as the northeast part of the city and in local areas including Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, Burlington, and Camden counties.