Cost of Eviction in Philadelphia

18 Replies

I am contemplating an eviction of a tenant in Philadelphia who is many months behind. However, I wanted to see if I could get an estimate of how much the whole process will cost. Assume the following:

- It is not registered yet / I don't have a license for the property yet

- The lease is in default

- I will do all the legal paperwork myself and will not use an attorney

Also, if someone could explain the step-by-step (e.g. Step 1: register the property, Step 2: complete a rental suitability form, etc.) from their experience that would be super helpful.

I don't have any experience with evictions  (knock on the wood:-)

But for the other issue, all you have to do is take a time during the week to go to City Hall with your prove of ownership  (deed or settlement papers, if just purchased) and drivers license. Wait in line and that's it. Just tell them you need a rental license. They will give you your business Tax ID, if you don't have one.

$55 and you're done.

Be advised that if there are any unpaid city violations they will not give you licence. 

Then with your license on hand go to Philadelphia. gov and find get a "certificate of rental suitability".

Punch in your inf. like mailing address and rental licenses number and voila you can print your certificate of rental suitability. 

Be advised that if there are children under 5 years old living in that property ( that you know of) you will have to get a LED certificate. When you fill out the aplication for rental license in the City Hall there will be a question there " was your house built before 1978. " if your answer is yes

do any children 5 and under live there?

If the answer is yes they will not issue a rental license without a LED certificate.

 

After you’ve done everything Lana stated you start the legal process to evict. If you hire someone to do the process it could run as high as $750 dollars which includes all of the filing fees. Either way the process from start to finish can take some time depending on your court dates. 

But before you even get to all that, you have to post the “notice to quit” and then wait. 

Don’t take this the wrong way, but based on the situation you have found yourself in, perhaps its best to pay an eviction attorney to hold your hand for the first go round. Lessons cost money, good lessons - lots. 

You may also want to consider offering the tenant cash for keys. I know it seems to go against the very principles of landlording, but I think if you factor in loss of rent (due to the amount of time it takes to evict someone in Philly) a compelling case could be made that it will save you a ton of money. It also gives you an opportunity to get someone who is trashing your property out sooner. 

You said many months behind. How many and why? Do they know that you don't have a license? Like Neil said you should post 10 days note to quit on thier door and get the license ASAP. I don't know how you communicate with them, but just let them know that eviction is going to ruin their credit and rental history and it's going to be a huge problem for them to find a new place. A lot of times when tenants see that you are serious they come up with the money before 10 day period is up or move out. 

Originally posted by @Neal A. :

After you’ve done everything Lana stated you start the legal process to evict. If you hire someone to do the process it could run as high as $750 dollars which includes all of the filing fees. Either way the process from start to finish can take some time depending on your court dates. 

But before you even get to all that, you have to post the “notice to quit” and then wait. 

Don’t take this the wrong way, but based on the situation you have found yourself in, perhaps its best to pay an eviction attorney to hold your hand for the first go round. Lessons cost money, good lessons - lots. 

You may also want to consider offering the tenant cash for keys. I know it seems to go against the very principles of landlording, but I think if you factor in loss of rent (due to the amount of time it takes to evict someone in Philly) a compelling case could be made that it will save you a ton of money. It also gives you an opportunity to get someone who is trashing your property out sooner. 

If you are a HAPCO member, you could use their eviction attorney for far less than the price in the quoted post ...

@Lana Lee  thanks for sharing the required steps and the costs associated. I will have to plan a day for City Hall to get all of this done. I do not believe there are children under 5 in the home.

Just for curiosity sake, what is involved in the Lead Certification. Is that something you pay an inspector to create?

@Neal A. I understand your perspective and will consider hiring an eviction attorney, but I am definitely interested in learning the details myself. I have done another eviction successfully in MontCo, but I assume Philadelphia is much different. 

Last, I am going to try the cash for keys too. Do you think I should off the cash for keys before or after I post the notice to quit? Also, do you have to take a picture of the posted notice to quit for the court?

@Steve Babiak Just checked the HAPCO website. Looks like a great program. Do you have experience using HAPCO? Can you explain to me how this works and how they can represent you for so little money? Is the cost spread over everyone's membership?

Sorry I've made a mistake on the age of the child . It's 6 and under. The cost of Lead testing and creating a certificate depends on the size of your unit. You can call any company to get a quote.

Originally posted by @David G. :

@Lana Lee  thanks for sharing the required steps and the costs associated. I will have to plan a day for City Hall to get all of this done. I do not believe there are children under 5 in the home.

...

@Neal A.  ...

@Steve Babiak Just checked the HAPCO website. Looks like a great program. Do you have experience using HAPCO? Can you explain to me how this works and how they can represent you for so little money? Is the cost spread over everyone's membership?

There is a detailed thread on getting set up for rentals in Philadelphia:

https://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/742/topics/50...

The HAPCO attorney is handling a large number of evictions, so there is the benefit of economies of scale. I last used the HAPCO eviction program over ten years ago (to evict tenants I had not placed), when they had a different attorney - so I don't have any experience with this attorney now being used. Membership fees from HAPCO do not pay the attorney, that much I know.

HAPCO offers quite a bit more in the way of benefits besides a low cost eviction attorney. The printed manual on things specific to Philadelphia plus the updates on legislation that gets passed in Philadelphia are just a couple more.

Do the notice to quit first. Maybe you’ll get lucky and that will provoke a response. I take a first person video of my notice to quits in the event that the tenant says they never received it.

After the notice to quit time period had elapsed offer them cash for keys as a last chance prior to going to court.

As landlords, I think, we are doing a disservice to each other, because cash for keys promote this kind of behavior. Nothing is on their record and they are off to yet another property with a pocket of cash that you just gave them aside from months of living for free. 

Did you collect a security deposit? Tell them either you can return a part of their security deposit to help with moving or use it on an attorney to file their eviction. I like what Lana also said. Mention that the eviction is going to ruin the credit and rental history. Try to be sympathetic to their situation but also firm with your rules. 

Originally posted by @Michael Nguyen :

... Mention that the eviction is going to ruin the credit and rental history. ... 

That only works with tenants that have pristine credit and rental history; I suspect that this particular tenant already has dings that appear in their background reports ...

@Steve Babiak You are right. Security deposit is long gone. My primary concern is that the property does not get vandalized. I plan on testing cash for keys, but it is unlikely to work. 

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to prevent and/or insure for potential vandalism during the eviction process? Are there any insurance Cos that cover tenant vandalism?

How many months are left on the lease?  I had an issue in Chester County a few years ago, took three separate court appearances and 9 months to just have a judge say that since there was only a month left on the lease at that point that there was no reason to evict.  If you only have a couple months left and you think they'll actually move out, you might prevent vandalism by just not pursuing an eviction.  Not sure how different Philly is from the burbs (I'm not familiar with all this property registration stuff)

I've had tenants start explicitly waiving their right to notice in my leases to save me 10 days.

You may even have a problem evicting once you receive your license as it was not obtained prior to placing the tenant. For this reason, among others, I would opt for the attorney. Just my $.02

I would absolutely positively recommend an attorney.  You're not up to speed on landlord tenant laws in PA nor Philadelphia, so it's going to be tough going if you don't know the rules and how to do it.  No matter what help you get here, I can almost guarantee that you'll do something procedurally wrong - and extend the pain even longer.

Find a good attorney, pay them, and get these people out.

Good luck!

@David G.

When it comes to vandalism, detailed tenant screening + proper insurance coverage is your best bet. Obviously, it's too late to implement option 1, so check into option 2 to make sure everything is covered. 

My policy covers tenant damages/vandalism but I'm honestly not sure if it is standard. In all honesty, you should talk to an insurance broker. I deal with insurance policies all the time in the legal world and the construction world. Despite being a reasonably competent attorney/business owner and despite looking at these documents basically every day, I still consult with my brokers to wade through the language. It's a highly regulated. specialized industry. So most of it goes past my head. 

Do note that Pennsylvania law does allow wage garnishment for rent payments. Whether it's worth it depends on the level of screening you did and whether the tenants have meaningful employment. I personally found that it's not worth it in most cases. But it's an option.    

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. Thanks for your thoughts. Just curious who is your insurance carrier?

@David G.

I assume for my property insurances? I have a few different ones so I'll have to check the list but I'm pretty sure the most recent one was from Hartford. 

I'm not saying to use Hartford by the way --- they happened to give us the cheapest quote when the brokers went shopping for quotes for the property. I have no allegiance to any carriers. 

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.

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