Stroudsburg – This is the first of a 3 part series that gives and overview to the rights of Landlords and Tenants with regard to non-payment of rent, the inability to inhabit a unit because of condition, how a Landlord files against a tenant in magisterial court and how a Tenant and file charges against a landlord in magisterial court.
This Blog and/or the successive blogs in this series are not meant to be legal advice, but instead offer a simple overview of the process.
While landlords and tenants should always live in harmony, sometime that doesn’t happen. It can be because the tenant doesn’t pay his rent and the landlord, after following the requirements of the law, files action against the tenant at the magisterial level. Or it may be that the landlord doesn’t comply with what the tenant needs are. Typically this is in regard to the condition of the unit and the tenant files against the landlord to provide certain services.
In either case, that court that hears those type landlord/tenant complaints is the magisterial court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Typically, you file in the town where the house or condo is located, or at least at the court that hears that geographic area where the unit is. There are a number of them in Monroe, Pike and all other counties in Pennsylvania. Either party can obtain the necessary paperwork to do a filing at any of the magisterial courts. The courts are listed in the yellow-pages and can be searched online as well.
The time it takes for the courts to act on Landlord/Tenant complaints is very clear. You can search the time requirements online, and the number of days that it takes for the court to make a decision on a particular case is also very clear. The Pocono Mountains are no different than other areas of the state when it comes to the policies and procedures of the magisterial court.
Why would either party file at magisterial court? The answer is that if you are not able to negotiate something with the landlord or the landlord is not able to collect rent from the tenant, the only way to remedy the situation is to go to court. Those are the 2 most popular reasons for filing complaints on either party’s part.
For the landlord, they must first notify the tenant with a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit form. The form is typically sent via the U.S. mail and simply states that the rent has not been received and the tenant needs to pay it. At NEPA Management Associates, this is typically done on the 6th of each month, because in the vast majority of our leases, the rent is due on the 1st. In all cases, if you have a lease with a tenant, it’s easier to keep the rent due on the 1st.
After that, a 10-Day Notice is sent to the tenant, which needs to be sent by regular mail, certified mail and/or posted on the residence. At NEPA Management Associates we do all three. We want to insure delivery. The judge at the magistrate court level will ask how the tenant was notified. While the amount a time that you give a tenant to pay is negotiable per the terms of the lease, we have found in our experience that a 10-Day Notice is applicable or accepted by the magistrate courts in the Pocono Mountains. If you give the tenant less than 10 days, the Judges tend not to be quite as receptive for property notification.
If the owner uses a lease that makes the tenant waive all of those rights (which is not something that we do), it typically is not accepted by the court. The Pocono magistrates require that proper notification be given to the tenant. You cannot simply waive their rights per the terms of the lease.
In the next blog, I’ll go through what happens at the filing.
Thomas R. Wilkins is CEO of NEPA Management Associates, Inc. a full service management company located in the Poconos. NEPA Management Associates has a number of residential and commercial income producing properties that they manage for third party owners and/or lenders. NEPA Management has been in business for the past 20 years. During that time they have represented numerous owners and tenants in magisterial court.