Philadelphia Ejectment Lawyer
There are two ways to remove an unwanted individual from your property: evictions and ejectments. Ejectments are appropriate where there is no landlord tenant relationship between the owner and the occupant of the property. Many ejectments follow a change in ownership of property from sheriff sale. In such cases the prior owner continues to occupy the property but the legal owner is the new purchaser.
Ejectments are a straightforward legal procedure. They process generally takes four to seven months unless the defendant has a meritorious legal defense. The courts generally consider whether the occupant has a right to live at the property (e.g., a lease) in deciding which track to place the case on. Cases that are placed on the fast track take four to seven months whereas cases placed on the standard track take twelve months.
The first step in the ejectment process is to file a complaint in ejectment. You must attach the legal deed to the property as an exhibit to the complaint. The complaint must be filed with the court and served on the defendant. According to the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, the complaint must be hand served. The process server must file an affidavit of service with the courts swearing under penalty of perjury the defendant is served.
Following proper service, the defendant has twenty days to answer the complaint. If the defendant does not take action, you may file notice of praecipe to enter default judgment. This notice must be delivered to the squatter. If the squatter fails to answer the complaint ten days from receipt of the notice a default judgment is entered. From there the plaintiff may file a motion for writ of possession asking the Court to authorize them to setup a sheriff lockout of the Property.
If the defendant answers the complaint the matter will be listed for trial. At trial the burden is on the Plaintiff to prove by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., more likely than not) a superior right to possession of the property. The most common way to prove superior right to possession is to present the court with a certified and recorded deed. The defendant may assert various defenses to the ejectment action such as the deed is fraudulent, existence of a landlord-tenant relationship, and/or adverse possession.
Following successful disposition of the case the plaintiff must file a writ of possession. The writ is delivered to the Office of the Sheriff of Philadelphia who schedules a lockout. In Philadelphia the owner must have a moving truck, movers and thirty days free storage available to the squatter in limited circumstances.
While you can probably process an ejectment yourself, it is important to remember that navigating the Pennsylvania legal system can be time-consuming and challenging if never done before. Our attorneys have experience successfully winning and removing thousands of squatters from sheriff sale properties and newly purchased properties in Philadelphia, PA. If you have an unwanted person in your Property and there is no landlord-tenant relationship, call us to discuss the ejectment process. We are available to process the ejectment right away and your presence may not be required until the sheriff is scheduled to remove the unwanted individual from the property.