The Eviction Process: From the Eviction Letter to Court

Landlords sometimes find themselves in a bind when their tenants won't leave after the terms of a rental agreement or lease are broken. When rent isn't paid, when the apartment or other rental area is not being cared for properly or when other terms of a lease or rental agreement aren't honored, it is time to send and eviction letter.

Evicting people is never easy. After you've decided to evict, you must retain a lawyer. The eviction attorney will write a letter on your behalf requesting recovery of your property. The letter must be dated, a clear reason for eviction must be stated and the tenants will then have 30 days to remove themselves and their belongings from the premises. Don't expect immediate cooperation. Those who have been evicted before and know how the system works are familiar with the first letter in the eviction process.

By this time, you've lost at least two months' rent, and the cost of eviction is adding up. If at the end of the 30-day period the tenant persists, the court will schedule a hearing. This time, official papers will be filed at the courthouse at a cost of about $115 to you. This figure is typical in southern Pennsylvania, but it depends on where you live. Most landlords know they will not be able to collect past-due rent, so they are satisfied to recover their property. A constable will serve the official notice of the hearing.

Some delinquent or non-compliant renters will have timed their departure for close to the court hearing, knowing nothing will happen during the time leading up to it. Landlord rights prohibit any action against renters. In the "olden days" of renting, a person's belongings could be put out in the street and hot water and electric could be shut off. No longer. Landlord rights have been restricted in the past couple of decades to protect tenants.

If all goes well, your tenant will be showing signs of leaving just before the court date. Most renters who have failed to adhere to terms of rental will not want to go to court. However, if they do not leave and do not show up for the court hearing, they will be removed from the property by the authorities. You, as the landlord, will not have to escort them personally from the premises. Hopefully, they will leave without seriously damaging your property, and there will be a minimum of unpleasant interaction.

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