Bought Phila. Duplex that Doesn't Have a Rent Suitability License

10 Replies

I just bought a Duplex in Philadelphia and the previous owner never bothered getting a Rent Suitability License, nor had the property lead swiped.

Our new single mom tenant isn't paying her rent and we gave her notice to vacate (she is month to month). She has indicated that she doesn't plan on vacating, nor does she intend on paying rent.

She says she has free legal advice, which I believe to be true. She proactively asked when her eviction court date is as she appears savvy to the system. I believe she will come to court (no shame in her game!) and might have enough legal assistance to get herself an advantage.

I'm nervous, as in PA she can get every dime she ever paid in rent back if the owner never got the Rent Suitability Certificate. In fact the judge can give her up to 3 times that amount.

I'm wondering who will owe her these amounts - I'm assuming I will as the current owner. That will be devastating financially and going after the previous owner is useless. He's not only a slumlord; but he's broke. There were over $30k in judgments against the property when I purchased it. 

Thoughts?

Haven't run into it myself, but I believe the Philly law is written in that you can't evict without the rental license. But it's sort of weasel worded so you can get a license, then file for eviction.

I don't know the penalties for not doing the lead testing with a child under 6 in the house.

The good news on her side is that it sounds like she's doing it wrong too. If she has an issue, she just can't not pay. She needs to escrow the money (which she may not be doing).

I would reach out to a lawyer who's familiar with this. They will be able to guide you through the process and ensure you don't make any mistakes.

She's not claiming an issue at all - that's the thing. In fact, when we reached out to her about repairs she stated there were none needed.

Her's is a $ issue. He cell phone and electric were shut off due to non-payment. Fortunately a government program got her electric back on as it was getting very cold somedays.

Maybe possible to leverage her legal assistance and knowledge of public programs to convert to Sec 8? Might cost a bit in the short term but would limit the downside, keep everyone happy while you get compliant and provide some revenue stability for the property.

I suggest you begin the process of acquiring all licenses necessary in order to show that you are acting in good faith and seek legal assistance with the eviction process. 

Just because a judge is allowed to do something doesn't necessarily mean he/she is actually going to do it - especially when you have a bad tenant.

To your success!

In this situation, I would be afraid that I was being scammed by the previous owner.  Let's see -- sell a property without the proper license,  put your GF in the house, who immediately stops paying rent, does the free ride for as long as she can, and then gets triple damages!  Split the triple damages and each walks away with $45K.

BTW, the cell phone that got cut off for non-payment was a burner phone.  She has a nicer cell phone than you do.  They all do.  Her manicure is nicer than your wife's manicure.

I am a very suspicious person.  Get a lawyer.  Review your title insurance policy, and your contract with your realtor.  You may have some recourse there.

Originally posted by @Joe White :

I just bought a Duplex in Philadelphia and the previous owner never bothered getting a Rent Suitability License, nor had the property lead swiped.

Our new single mom tenant isn't paying her rent and we gave her notice to vacate (she is month to month). She has indicated that she doesn't plan on vacating, nor does she intend on paying rent.

She says she has free legal advice, which I believe to be true. She proactively asked when her eviction court date is as she appears savvy to the system. I believe she will come to court (no shame in her game!) and might have enough legal assistance to get herself an advantage.

I'm nervous, as in PA she can get every dime she ever paid in rent back if the owner never got the Rent Suitability Certificate. In fact the judge can give her up to 3 times that amount.

I'm wondering who will owe her these amounts - I'm assuming I will as the current owner. That will be devastating financially and going after the previous owner is useless. He's not only a slumlord; but he's broke. There were over $30k in judgments against the property when I purchased it. 

Thoughts?

 Is that a legal duplex or do you have to go through rezoning first?

Originally posted by @Joe White :

@Lana Lee Legal Duplex

 As I understood you inherited that tenant. You should not be responsible for previous owner actions. Just get the licence and rental suitability, if there are no obstacles and start the eviction process. I don't understand why the judge could fine you.

You will not be held responsible for rent paid to the previous owner.

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