Second Pay or Quit Notice?

8 Replies

Issue: For the May 1st rent, my Philadelphia PA tenant didn't pay and, on May 31st, I served a 10-day Pay or Quit Notice for May's rent/late fee/water bill. Now it's June 7th and she hasn't paid May or June's rent. Should I serve a second Pay or Quit Notice and include both months that are now late (and wait another 10 days)? Or, should I stick with the first Pay or Quit Notice (which excluded June rent) and move it forward through the eviction process? My concern is that the June late rent will not be included in the eventual judgment process if I didn't include it within the initial Pay or Quit notice. Thanks in advance for any advice.

Background: I have a long-term tenant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (into the 4th year now) who pays anywhere from 3-14 days late (along with a late fee) about 50% of the time. I never previously served a 10-Day Pay or Quit notice just because the rent+late fee would always eventually get paid in full, she'd tell me when it'll get paid, and she's a great tenant otherwise. Now the tenant states that her employer cut back her hours for who knows how long and she's trying to get the funds together ASAP.

By the way, I fully understand that I should have served the Pay or Quit notice right after the tenant went late the first month, but lesson learned and I'm just trying to move forward at this point. Thanks.

I do not know the specifics of Pennsylvania law but generally, even if you win the eviction suit (which gives you possession), you would have to take the tenant to small claims court to get the judgement amount anyway. If you did that (although it usually is not worth it because if they could pay it they would have paid rent in the first place) you would file for the total amount due as per your lease agreement in addition to what you were owed in the eviction suit.

So yes start the eviction process now. The longer you wait is just more money down the drain unless she miraculously comes up with all the money due.

Join HAPCO - they are a Philadelphia specific landlord organization. HAPCO has an eviction attorney that you can use, and the rate you pay as a HAPCO member is so low - less than two hours of normal attorney billing by the hour - that you would be hard pressed to beat their price when hiring somebody to complete an eviction.

Your first concern should be getting possession back - if the tenant does not have money, getting a bigger judgment just makes the amount you might not be paid larger, but you aren't getting the place back sooner so that you can put a paying tenant in there.

Yeah, I'd want to go after the bigger amount, but letting it go into month number two - you should have served that notice mid-month at latest once they were late - is your mistake. Figure out what you really want ...

@Jibu V.

In my experience, most magistrates will allow you to add the subsequent late rents to the monetary judgment. But at the magistrate level, anything can happen. It was never meant to be the most " accurate" court system --- more about handling matters quickly. 

I agree with @Steve Babiak that your first concern is getting possession back. I've also heard great things about HAPCO. Just note that in general, hiring a normal, hourly attorney to handle a magistrate claim is often not cost-effective for various reasons. 

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.

@Chris K. - in Philadelphia, it's not like elsewhere in PA where there are magisterial districts and magistrates; Philadelphia has landlord tenant court. The idea behind both is to have a "level" of hearings that don't have to go to Common Pleas.

@Steve Babiak

Good point! My basic point was that everything below the Court of Common Pleas is subject to de novo review. This is incidentally why most well-coached businesses do not send anyone to defend any claims at the magistrate level. They just file the appeal later and have the other side waste money and time at the lower level. 

Evictions are an exception to that rule because the mechanism there is different when it comes to appeals. It's one of the few situations where you want to "win" before going to the Court of Common Pleas.   

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'd start the eviction process immediately, you are already over due on that as well. The eviction process should include everything that is due and it shouldn't matter what was listed on the Pay or Quit.

Give her a second notice and hope she pays then a month from now when she doesn’t, give her a third quit or pay notice as well and buy her flowers and say “pretty please “and maybe she will pay part of Mays rent . Look are you doing this for profit or are you running a 501c community shelter to house deadbeats ? She should already be homeless by now . You should have already evicted this idiot . Stop talking about it and Start eviction process NOW