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The Eviction Process

Category: Tenant Rights & Laws Published: Sunday, 21 September 2014 Written by ATA Admin

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The Magisterial District Judge Eviction Process

A Complaint Is Filed With The MDJ

The landlord or tenant can file a civil complaint with the MDJ . The landlord may file a landlord-tenant action if he is seeking eviction. The tenant will receive notification of the complaint and will be given a hearing date within 7 to 15 days of the filing date.

A Hearing With The MDJ Is Scheduled

What happens at the Hearing?

  • The MDJ calls the hearing to order.
  • The party filing the Complaint, or plaintiff, (Landlord in an eviction) presents evidence and testimony and can bring additional witnesses. After each witness the defendant (tenant in an eviction action) is given the opportunity to question the witness.
  • The Tenant presents evidence and witnesses in defense and presents any evidence or witnesses for cross-complaints. After each of the tenant’s witnesses, the landlord is given the opportunity to question the witness.
  • The MDJ listens to all the evidence both parties have to present and makes a decision. The MDJcould make a ruling that day or may take several days to make a decision, which each party receives in the mail.
  • You should note that the MDJ is in charge of the hearing and should be treated with respect. If theMDJ interrupts to ask a question or give a ruling, listen carefully and respond if the questions are directed to you. Do not interrupt the MDJ .

What is a “Defense?

A defense is your reason(s) why the landlord should not be allowed to evict you. Some common defenses are that the landlord did not allow you enough notice to vacate the apartment, the apartment had a lot of problems due to the landlord’s failure to make repairs, or the landlord’s reasons for wanting to evict you are untrue.

You should bring any paperwork you have that is relevant to your case. For example, if you are being evicted for non-payment of rent and have a written agreement with the landlord that you could pay in installments, then you should bring that agreement to the hearing. Likewise, if you didn’t pay the rent because of poor conditions in the apartment, you should bring pictures of those conditions, copies of the letters you sent to the landlord about the problems and proof that the rent money is in an escrow account. These items will be helpful to the MDJ in making a decision in the matter.

 

What is a “Cross-Complaint?

You also have the right to file a Cross-Complaint if you believe the landlord owes you any money. For instance, if your property was damaged because of a water leak or other problem in the apartment, you may have a claim against the landlord for money damages. A Cross-Complaint must be filed before the hearing. You file a Cross-Complaint at the District Court where the complaint is filed. Though there is no filing fee for such a complaint, you will have to pay to have the complaint served on the opposing party. You can ask the District Judge to serve it by certified or registered mail or in person; the fee for service will depend on how it is served. If you think you have reason to file a Cross-Complaint, you should call NPLS or a private attorney for advice.

How should I prepare for my hearing?

If you have a lawyer, he will go over the information below and assist you to present the information at the hearing rather than you. If you do not have an attorney, you should practice saying your side of the case. Make a written outline or checklist to use at the hearing. Be brief and to the point. Be ready to explain each item of evidence such as photographs or receipts and when the actions you took occurred. It is important that you arrive on time for the hearing and that you dress appropriately.

What Happens After the Hearing?

Within 3 days of the hearing, the MDJ will issue a written decision called a Notice of Judgment. If the judgment is in your favor, the landlord is required to do what the MDJ ordered. Normally, this means that the landlord cannot evict you from the apartment. If the MDJ finds in favor of the landlord, the judgment will be entered against you. There are three types of judgments that can be issued against a tenant:

  • Possession Granted and
  • Possession Granted if Money Judgment Not Satisfied.
  • Possession NOT granted but money judgment awarded

The Notice will show you what type of judgment was issued against you. You or the landlord has the right to file an appeal to the Court of Common Pleas in your county.

 

 

 

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