Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Landlord – Tenant: The Possession Game.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | September 5, 2011

No. 707

As we have noted before, the primary battle between landlords and tenants is frequently over possession, not money.  For the landlord, this is particularly true when the tenant is known to have no surplus funds.

From the tenant’s point of view, if the magistrate’s award is not appealed, the eviction comes too soon to find another place.  Ten days after the hearing, plus one, judgment is rendered.  Ten days plus one later, an eviction could be scheduled.  The primary reason why tenants appeal is to prevent the day of eviction from coming too quickly.

But, of course, filing an appeal involves paying rent into escrow with the Department of Court Records in Allegheny County or the Prothonotary every place else.  The arbitration will be scheduled in about 45 days, and by that time the tenant has often moved.

However, if not, the landlord may be facing serious delay.  First there is a 30 day appeal period.  Then, if the case is appealed to a judge, the wait can be as much as several more months.

From the landlord’s point of view, it may be possible to cut short this delay by keeping an eye on the docket.  If the tenant fails to make payment into the escrow account, the landlord may terminate the writ of supersedeas, the document the keeps the landlord from evicting the tenant while the case continues.  However, a specially-written notice must be sent to the tenant (and a certificate of mailing must be obtained from the post office) giving ten days for the payments to be brought current.

After the ten days expires, a praecipe to terminate supersedeas may be filed.  The Department of Court Records will then hand the landlord a certificate verifying that the writ of supersedeas has been terminated.  When the landlord takes this certificate to the Magisterial District Judge,a writ of possession can be issued and served by the constable.

Meanwhile, the hearing on the appeal involving rent, damages and other money issues may come up and be decided.

If all this seems a little complex, find a lawyer who is familiar with landlord-tenant litigation.



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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