Tenant Appeals A Magistrate Ruling in PA

6 Replies

Hello,

I'm a new investor and ran into an issue right out of the gate.

A tenant recently filed an appeal to the magistrates ruling.    I asked for possession of the property and November rent which I was awarded both.    The tenant moved out of the property and 2 days later I get the appeal in the mail.   

So I guess my question is what if I don't want to continue the case?  

I got her out of the property and I retained her security deposit good enough for me!    

My next question is if I don't file a complaint within the 20 days and she applies for a judgement of non pros what is the worst that can happen.   I don't want to hire an attorney she only owes me $625.  I've since already have another tenant living there.  I guess she could be appealing the money she owes me but she didn't pay her rent.       

Thank You!       

@Jim K.

A few questions/thoughts:

1. How do you "know" that the tenant moved out? In other words, how do you intend to prove in court that the tenant voluntarily surrendered the property? 

2. Am I correct in assuming that you didn't get the sheriff or the constable to execute a "writ of execution" based on your magistrate judgment? 

3.  If you don't file the complaint in the Court of Common Pleas, the tenant can take steps to void the magistrate judgment. As a practical matter, this would mean that you lost your case at the magistrate court. In turn, this could result in --- among other things --- you having to let the tenant back in. If you try to block the tenant from returning, then you may be engaging in self-help eviction (which is generally a big no-no and could result in liability for you). You may also end up waiving your right to collect the past-due rent from her due to the fact that you failed to fully pursue your claim. 

4. Setting aside the above, note that you have to follow specific steps when dealing with security deposit. Make sure you do it to protect yourself. I've seen some odd cases where the landlord --- by failing to properly follow the security deposit laws --- ended up having to pay the tenant when everything was said and done. 

Disclaimer: While I’m an attorney licensed to practice in PA, I’m not your attorney. What I wrote above does not create an attorney/client relationship between us. I wrote the above for informational purposes. Do not rely on it for legal advice. Always consult with your attorney before you rely on the above information.

I have text messages proving she moved on Sunday November 20th.    Which even if she did try to pursue the security deposit she violated her lease by departing prior to the lease term, she did not clean the carpets as required in the lease, there are scratches all over a freshly painted wall, she only returned one key and the place was dirty.  I was considering sending her a letter with charges for the above items.  Am I right on this?

  I honestly don't care if the magistrate  decision is void she left on her own will and I'm kind of sick of dealing with this woman.    I don't if this is the right choice or not I'm  just ready to move on to be honest.  She was a nightmare!   Thank you for your reply.        

You should not even be considering not continuing. By doing so you stand to lose your original ruling. If they win they could move back in and/or have you rebate rent.

If you are in the business to stay continue the case, it's part of doing business.

Originally posted by @Jim K. :

I have text messages proving she moved on Sunday November 20th.    Which even if she did try to pursue the security deposit she violated her lease by departing prior to the lease term, she did not clean the carpets as required in the lease, there are scratches all over a freshly painted wall, she only returned one key and the place was dirty.  I was considering sending her a letter with charges for the above items.  Am I right on this?

  I honestly don't care if the magistrate  decision is void she left on her own will and I'm kind of sick of dealing with this woman.    I don't if this is the right choice or not I'm  just ready to move on to be honest.  She was a nightmare!   Thank you for your reply.        

 if you do not send a security deposit statement within proper timeframe of tenant vacating (state specific) tenant can typically sue you for full deposit back, regardless of damages. in some states they can sue for triple the security deposit. I suggest you download your tenant laws and learn them, and send out the statement ASAP.

@Jim K.

If the magistrate judgment is void, then you never evicted the tenant. So depending on the timing of everything, you may be renting the two units to two separate tenants.  That could pose various risks. 

Also note that when a tenant files an appeal to the Court of Common Pleas, he or she needs to post some amount rent into an escrow. The exact amount depends on a number of factors. But in any event, I assume she is not just walking away from that money. So I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it as a frivolous appeal. 

For the security deposit issue, I would recommend that you really study the law on this. I cannot find you a link at this second, but do a Google search on the topic. You may also want to do a BP search on the topic as well. You really need to have a system for dealing with security deposits or you can face various liabilities (e.g. being liable for twice the amount of security deposit, failure of being able to hold the tenant responsible for damages using the security deposit, etc.). Your question suggests that you might not be familiar with the law --- you'll want to become very familiar with it ASAP. 

Disclaimer: While I’m an attorney licensed to practice in PA, I’m not your attorney. What I wrote above does not create an attorney/client relationship between us. I wrote the above for informational purposes. Do not rely on it for legal advice. Always consult with your attorney before you rely on the above information.

I've been searching the web all week.   I can't find anything I'm looking for.   maybe I'll just go find the complaint.    thank you.  

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