The eviction process in Lancaster, PA is somewhat straight forward. However, it is important to screen tenants before allowing them to rent in order to qualify them and reduce the rate of evictions at your property. Even with a good screening process, evictions become necessary, so be sure to follow the steps below and stay informed about the Lancaster, PA eviction laws. Whether you’re a new landlord or a seasoned pro, consider this landlord’s guide to eviction in Lancaster, PA whenever you’re faced with evicting a tenant at your rental property.
Notice to Quit
The first step to evicting your Lancaster tenant is to draft up a Notice to Quit. This is what you will deliver to the tenant. It will include what they need to do to stay (ex. Pay a balance) and outline how long they have to either pay or move-out. Keep in mind the reason for the notice must be a legal reason. This means, the tenant is behind on rent and past the “grace period” or they violated other terms of the lease which are noted in the contract to result in eviction.
If the reason for the notice is a non-payment they have 10 days to pay. If the eviction is a result of lease violation the tenant has 15 days to move if their lease is less than a year or 30 days if it is a year or longer. Always be sure to include the move-out by date. When calculating the deadline to evict, never cover the date in which the notice was served. Additionally, when determining a non-renewal eviction it must be the last day of the rental period.
Serve Notice to Quit
The notice can be served in person (knocking on the resident’s door and handing it to them) or by posting it on the residence or other visible location. Always document where you put the notice and the date of delivery. If posting it, take a photo for your records.
Tenant Holding Over
If the notice was served and the tenant didn’t pay and/or move-out, the next step is to file a Landlord and Tenant Complaint. This is an eviction lawsuit that goes to court. The district courthouse will process the complaint and set a trial date. During trial, both parties will have a chance to speak. Subsequently, the judge will make an informed decision. If the judge decides the eviction is within the law, they will order the tenant to move-out effective immediately.
Order of Possession
If the tenant fails to vacate after the court order, the next step as a landlord is to put in for an Order of Possession. The Order of Possession allows the sheriff to remove the tenant and their belongings from your property. Landlords should never take it upon themselves to physically remove a tenant or their belongings.
Guide to Eviction: Key Items to Remember
As a landlord, it may be in your best interest to hire a property management company to help you avoid common eviction mistakes. This ensures the eviction process, as well as lease writing and property maintenance, are handled properly. Still, it is important to understand the dos and don’ts of eviction as a landlord. With that being said, keep this guide to eviction in mind:
- Avoid Self Help Evictions: This is as self-explanatory as it sounds. Do not do attempt to do the eviction yourself. Landlords commonly make this mistake by withholding security deposits, changing locks, moving the tenant’s items out without permission, threats and so on. This is a definite way to not only stop a legal eviction from happening but also opening yourself up to lawsuits.
- Serve Proper Notice Through the Courts: This goes along with the first point. Serving notice is always required in the eviction process, there is no way around it. Give the notice, go to court and then involve the sheriff if need be.
- Legal Evictions: As mentioned above, the reasons for eviction are lease violation (lease must state breaking it results in eviction) and not paying rent past the grace period the lease lists.
- Hire An Eviction Attorney: Always hire an attorney, even if you are well versed in eviction law.
The list goes on, but those are some key items to never forget when going through the eviction process. Stay well versed in eviction law to avoid any mistakes. In addition, be sure to document any and all lease violations. Maintain consistency with filing in court for late rent as well as failure to pay rent. Allowing late rent will set you and the tenant up for failure. To avoid costly eviction mistakes, contact Bay Property Management Group Lancaster to successfully navigate the complicated eviction process.