How to Evict a Family Member in Pennsylvania
Evicting a family member is a challenging and emotionally taxing process. However, under certain circumstances, it may become necessary to evict a family member from your property in Pennsylvania. This article will guide you through the legal process of evicting a family member in the state, while also addressing frequently asked questions regarding this delicate matter.
1. Understand the Legal Grounds: In Pennsylvania, you can only evict a family member if they are considered a tenant under the law. This means that they must have a written or verbal lease agreement or pay rent regularly. If they do not meet these criteria, they may be considered a guest, and you may have to take alternative actions to remove them from your property.
2. Communicate Clearly: Before initiating the legal eviction process, it is crucial to have an open and honest conversation with the family member in question. Clearly express your concerns, expectations, and reasons for considering eviction. Sometimes, a calm and respectful discussion can resolve the issue without resorting to legal action.
3. Serve a Formal Notice: If the initial conversation does not lead to a resolution, you must serve a formal notice to the family member stating your intention to evict. In Pennsylvania, a ten-day written notice is required for non-payment of rent, while a 15-day written notice is required for other lease violations.
4. File an Eviction Complaint: If the family member fails to comply with the notice, you can proceed to file an eviction complaint with the Magisterial District Court in the county where your property is located. The court will then schedule a hearing to resolve the matter.
5. Attend the Hearing: Both you and the family member will be required to attend the eviction hearing. Present your case, outlining the reasons for eviction and providing any supporting evidence or documentation. It is advisable to consult an attorney to ensure you follow the correct legal procedures during the hearing.
6. Obtain a Writ of Possession: If the court rules in your favor, they will issue a Writ of Possession. This document grants you the legal right to regain possession of your property. You must provide a copy of this writ to the local sheriff’s office, who will then schedule a date to physically remove the family member from the premises.
7. Enforce the Writ: On the scheduled date, the sheriff’s office will accompany you to the property to enforce the writ. You must ensure the family member has vacated the premises before the scheduled time. If they refuse to leave, the sheriff will remove them forcibly.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q1: Can I evict a family member without a written lease agreement?
A: Yes, as long as they pay rent regularly and can be considered a tenant.
Q2: How long does the eviction process take?
A: The eviction process can take several weeks to months, depending on various factors and court schedules.
Q3: Can I change the locks to prevent the family member from entering the property?
A: No, self-help eviction methods, such as changing locks without legal authorization, are illegal and can result in penalties.
Q4: Can I evict a family member during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: Eviction procedures during the pandemic may be subject to additional restrictions and requirements. Consult legal professionals for guidance.
Q5: What if the family member has no alternative housing options?
A: You may need to provide them with a reasonable amount of time to find alternative accommodations, but this is subject to individual circumstances and legal advice.
Q6: Can I recoup unpaid rent or damages during the eviction process?
A: Yes, you can include a claim for unpaid rent or damages in your eviction complaint.
Q7: Do I need an attorney to evict a family member?
A: While you are not legally required to have an attorney, it is highly recommended to ensure you follow the correct legal procedures and protect your rights.
Evicting a family member is a complex and emotionally challenging process. It is essential to approach this situation with empathy, understanding, and a commitment to resolve conflicts in the most respectful and legally appropriate manner. Seek legal advice to ensure you navigate the eviction process successfully while maintaining the well-being of all parties involved.