submitted by Bianca A. Roberto, Esq., Stark & Stark
Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania renters will face eviction in this new year, due to the residential eviction moratorium instituted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) ending on December 31st, 2020.
Moratoriums put into place by Governor Wolf ended in September. Thereafter, the federal government’s hold began, and commercial landlords were able to proceed to regain possession of real property. Residential landlords were permitted to proceed with evictions in limited cases.
In Philadelphia, the Municipal Court has put a hold on the service of writs of possession and alias writs in residential eviction cases.
In November, that court directed that any writs previously issued in residential cases couldn’t be served until after December 31st. However, with a showing of good cause, landlords can obtain an exception to the Order; a landlord will have to file a petition supported by exhibits and sworn affidavits or declarations that establish that the landlord has good cause to serve the writ.
The bases for good cause are: the tenant has already vacated the property; material breach of the lease terms; or another compelling basis. A material breach does not include habitual non-payment of rent, late payment of rent, or non-payment of utilities.
The issuance and service of an alias writ were suspended between March 16th and December 31st.
Even with the protections provided by the CDC, tenants seeking to stay in their homes must certify that they cannot pay their rent due to job losses, outstanding medical bills, or reduced work hours, and that the tenant sought public assistance to help meet their obligations.
A residential landlord can seek to evict a tenant for reasons other than non-payment of rent, as those claims aren’t protected by the CDC’s order.
We have yet to see whether the government will extend or enhance restrictions in landlord tenant matters in 2021.