How Fast Can I Evict My Tenant? Landlord, Tenant Eviction Process in Pennsylvania

How Long Does The Process Take?

The whole process only takes about 31 days from the time the landlord files for eviction until the constable shows up at home/apartment and escorts the tenants out of the property.

Step 1 – Provide Notice

You need to provide the tenant notice. A few of the ways include mailing them a letter, posting a letter on their door or my preferred is including the notice in the lease.  

This lease will serve as any required notice to be provided to you to begin the eviction process.

I include the above verbage in all my leases. and state the time frame. For me that is;

The eviction process will start on the 2nd day of your payment being late.

Step 2 – File At The District Justice

You will need to file the Landlord Tenant Complaint – See below.

Check District Justice Coverage Area

Before you go to your local District Justice to file, call them and confirm they serve your properties address.

Remember they will not give legal advice. And questions you try to ask them, if they try not to answer, just reframe the question.

It Is Not Free

It does cost money to file this paperwork, about $150-170.  It depends on the number of adults you are filing against.  I pass this on to my tenants, and I use this as a way to encourage them to pay to avoid filing. 

I am also under the impression you can add in fees to cover your costs for each step of this eviction process, for me that is $25, and that is stated in the lease. 

Tenant will be charged $25 for each step taken in the eviction process.

Come Prepared – Complete Infomation

Make sure you come prepared and you fill out the information accurately.  

  • Tenant’s name spelled correctly
  • Full names of all people on the lease
  • Correct address of the property
  • Accurate amount due, up the day you are filing.
  • Do not file for more than is due, on the day of filing.

The last thing you want to do is have wrong information, that causes the case to be thrown out and you have to start back at square one and you lost 3 week of time.

Step 3 – Schedule The Hearing

When I am still in the District Justice office handing them my paperwork, I ask to schedule hearing. Most of the time they will allow this. One office I go to only the Distict Justice will personally schedule the hearings. 

I like to get them scheduled while I am still there for two reasons:

  • I can get the the process going ASAP and waste no time. 
  • I get it scheduled for a day/time that works for me.

Another thing you do not want is 3-4 days later you get a letter in the mail with the date and time of the hearing, only to find it does not work for you. You then need to call or worse, go back and see the judge and ask him/her to reschedule and you loose more time.

Step 4 – Attend the Hearing

Come prepared

You need to come prepared. Most of the time it is just the District Justice, the tenant and myself, and I have done this process dozens of times, but I still get a little nervous.  You want to avoid appearing unprepared or provide inconsistant information.

Check your math

I always make it a point to check my math on the amount I filed for the day of or day before the hearing.  The judge will often question the amount you filed for and confirm with the tenant that they agree. It would be a good idea to itemize the costs and charges on the sheet of paper and have three copies, one for you to refer to, one for the tenant and one for the district justice.

Notice given?

The District Justice will ask you if you gave proper notice to the tenant. For me that is included in my lease:  “This lease will serve as any required notice to be provided to you to begin the eviction process.” in addition it lists the late fees that you charging. You can not make it up as you go along.

You will most likely need a copy of your lease, in case any questions arise.

Additional Money Due? Next Months Rent Has Come Due?

The district justice will ask you if there are any other costs or fees to be entered into the judgement. If additional late fees have kicked in, or an new rent cycle has passed you will be able to add these costs at this time.

Step 5 – Wait 10 Days

Assuming the district justice found in your favor, now you have to wait 10 days. 

The tenant can pay you at any point in this process, and if they pay in full the amount of the judgement, the issue is resolved. If the next rent cycle occured after the hearing, and they paid the judgement but not the next rent payment, the process starts again.

Partial payments do not cut it. 

I am glad to take partial payments. Until the judgement is paid in full it is game on. Do not be under that impression that taking partial payment stops the process.

Step 6 – File Request For Order Of Possession

Assuming you have not been paid in full for the amount of the judgement and you you waited 10 days (calender days) you need to file Request For Order of Possession.

file for possession property

More Expense to File

The cost to file for possession starts at $107.24 for a single adult and goes up from there. Again pass this on to the tenant, if they end up paying you

For me, I just want to get paid, I will often reach out to the tenant a day or two before and encourage them to pay or they will incur incur additional costs.

You could also mail this form, but I like to personally take it to the district justice to minimize my down time without getting paid.

Step 7 – Wait 11 Days

You are just about there.  After filing the Request For Order For Possession you need to wait 11 more days (calendar days).

Again the tenant still has time to make good on the judgement against them. If at any time they pay the full amount of the judgement the process stops.

Step 8 – Constable Arrives

Around day 10 or so a constable will call you to schedule a time for the “lock out”.

I have yet to arrive and find the tenant still there. They know what is coming and I have been in contact with them the whole time. 

If I know the tenant already moved out, I will cancel meeting the constable. If I am not sure or I want to be strictly by the book, I will meet set the time to meet. 

The whole process takes like 5 minutes.  After which I change the locks, walk thru and get a plan in place for turning the unit. 

A more efficient approach would be to walk thru a few days before and have your turn over crew waiting outside, ready to walk in as the constable is walking away.

Sometimes They Are Nasty Sometimes They Are Not

The images below are from an eviction. This girl was nasty and she had five kids (hard to believe people live like this). The photo with the window, those are roaches. I did not give her the house like this.

Happy Ending

We cleaned up the place, got rid of the roaches and started over again. See photos below for the after images.