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Landlord and Tenant: What Is “Pay and Stay”?

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | October 25, 2018

No. 1,577

JOHNSON v. BULLOCK-FREEMAN, 61 A.3d 272 (2012).

Image: ilclawyers.com

If there is a decision rendered by the Magisterial District Judge for overdue rent only, and for no other reason, the notice of of the decision will contain the following notations.

“Grant possession”  NO

“Grant possession if money judgment is not satisfied by time of eviction” YES

There has been a great deal of confusion about what these entries mean.

“Grant possession”  is followed by yes when the reason for the decision in favor of the landlord is more than delinquent rent.  It means that payment of the delinquent rent is not sufficient to reinstate the tenant’s right to live in the property.

However, “Grant possession” followed by “no” can have two meanings.  It can mean that the tenant has won the case and can remain in the property.  In that case, the second question would be answered “no.”  It can also mean that the tenant can “pay and stay” if the full amount of delinquent rent is paid prior to eviction.

In a pay and stay case, the answer to the second question is YES. Thus, even if the landlord has obtained an order of possession and comes with the constable on the appointed day to lock out the tenant, the tenant can still stop the eviction by paying the full amount of the award.

In the case, Johnson v. Bullock-Freeman,  cited above (click the link above to read the full opinion of the Superior Court), it was held that the tenant is required to pay the exact amount of the magistrate’s award in order to retain possession.  The landlord may not refuse payment of that amount because additional rent has accrued since the court’s decision. This decision explains the law behind this conclusion in detail.

Of course, if the landlord wants to be certain that the tenant is required to leave, he or she should allege violations of other terms of the lease, assuming they exist. Otherwise, the tenant may be able to pay and stay.

However, if the original lease term has expired and the tenant is month-to-month, pay and stay is not possible because the lease term is over at the end of the month.

If a tenant wishes to pay and stay, he or she must be prepared to refute the allegation that other terms of the lease were violated.

Such a lease violation might include a no-pet rule, a no extra occupant rule, a no smoking rule, damage to the property or a direct violation by the tenant of ny other provision of a written lease.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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