How Long Does it Take to Process an Ejectment?
Answer: Usually Four to Seven Months
In Philadelphia, PA an ejectment is a legal process to remove a squatter from property. The time frame is four months to one year depending on resistance. For example, if the squatter is well represented or has a legal defense the ejectment may take longer. If the squatter is not actively contesting the ejectment the process may be more expeditiously resolved.
Summary of the Process of Ejectment
The ejectment process begins when the owner file a complaint in ejectment. The complaint must be filed with the clerk of courts. Once the complaint is filed it is served on the squatter pursuant to the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure. From there the squatter has twenty (20) days to respond. If the squatter does not respond on answer the complaint, a default judgment is entered against defendant after thirty (30) days.
Following the default judgment, the owner may wait for trial or file a motion for writ of possession. The court will schedule a hearing date for the motion. At the motion hearing the owner or his counsel must lay out the basis for taking possession of the property. The court will ask to review the certified and recorded deed establishing ownership rights. Once the court grants the motion for writ of possession the owner must file for writ of possession.
The writ of possession must be filed with the clerk of courts. After the writ is filed with the clerk it is delivered to the Office of the Sheriff of Philadelphia to schedule a lockout. The sheriff will call the owner or his attorney to finalize lockout particulars. In Philadelphia, the sheriff often requires the owner to provide four movers, a twenty-four foot moving truck, and storage for the squatter!
At the appointed time and date, the sheriff will appear at the property for the lockout. The sheriff will inform the squatter he must vacate. If the squatter does not vacate he will be arrested. The writ of possession is posted to the door of the property along with a notice from the sheriff. The notice states that if the unauthorized occupant returns to the property they will be arrested. This will be enforced, and any further attempts to interfere with owners possession can be resolved by calling the police.
Ejectment and Sheriff Sales
Ejectments are a growing area of law in Philadelphia. Increasingly, properties are being purchased at Sheriffs Sales for 60-70% of their actual value. For Millennials, the main advantage may be ownership at a cost effective price. Immigrants may see an opportunity to obtain rental properties at low cost. Young entrepreneurs are flocking to these sales to get great potential values. They purchase the property and rent it. Alternatively, the buyer may purchase the property with intent to sell at a 30-40% profit gain.
There is one problem. Many of the properties purchased at the Sales have squatters. The squatter may be a former owner who has defaulted on their mortgage, or failed to pay taxes. He or she may also be a former tenant who is taking advantage of the situation. Sometimes the squatter is experienced in these matters. They play the law in their favor to hold possession as long as possible.
If you have purchased a property at Sheriff Sale, the first step is to make sure it is clear for use. At the Law Office of Mark D. Copoulos, we file ejectments to clear your right to possession. After possession is granted, the Office of the Sheriff of Philadelphia (the same person who sold you the property), ejects or locks out any would be squatters. Those who refuse to leave are locked up. The effect of the ejectment is to add thousands of dollars of value to a property where possession may have previously been in dispute.
Ejectments are filed as civil actions in the Court of Common Pleas. The process can take anywhere from three months to a year, depending on the oppositions level of representation. If the ejectment is unopposed ninety days is a realistic time frame. However, if the ejectment is a contest, it may take a full year to secure your property. The process can be expedited by filing Motions for Summary Judgment, and making extensive discovery requests.
If you have purchased a property at Sheriffs Sale, and want to enjoy its full value, contact the Law Office of Mark D. Copoulos to file an ejectment. We file the ejectment at the Earliest Possible Date (“EPD”), thereby ensuring that unwanted squatters are locked out of your property as soon as possible. Once locked out, they cannot return without being locked up.