Philadelphia Tenant Lawyer

Law Offices of Mark D. Copoulos

Tenant Appeals Lawyer

Every tenant who is evicted in Philadelphia has a right to appeal to the Court of Common Pleas.  If the tenant exercises their appellate rights, they will remain in their property while the appeal is ongoing. For a tenant this may mean an additional three to six months in the property following an eviction in Municipal Court. While there should be a meritorious basis for the appeal, the supersedeas implemented by the First Judicial District will ensure that you cannot be evicted until after a second trial.  An appeal may give you additional leverage in a landlord-tenant dispute.  Many landlords are looking to obtain possession of the property in an efficient manner.  If a tenant exercises their right to appeal the case will drag on with the tenant remaining in the property. An unreasonable landlord may quickly discover it is better to walk away from the outstanding rent than to fight a tenant on appeal in the Court of Common Pleas.  Taking an appeal to the Court of Common Pleas is a technical process. Unlike Philadelphia Municipal Court, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas is not user friendly.  The Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure must be strictly followed. If they are not followed your appeal will be dismissed by a landlord’s lawyer who is all too happy to throw out your case.  It is critical that you have seasoned representation to properly handle your appeal thus ensuring the case is not dismissed for technical error.  Following the appeal to the Court of Common Pleas, you have a right to take your case to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.  However, there is no automatic stay of eviction following an appeal to the Superior Court. Therefore, the trial judges decision in Common Pleas is usually a final and binding disposition.If you have been wronged following trial in Philadelphia Municipal Court, it may make sense to appeal to the Court of Common Pleas. A properly filed appeal is an immediate stay on eviction.  You have ten (10) days from the date of trial to appeal an eviction. It is important you act quickly following an improper decision made by a Municipal judge. Contact our office for more information about appealing an eviction in Philadelphia.

Tenant Security Deposit

P.C.S.A. Section 250.512 governs recovery of security deposits in Pennsylvania.  A Philadelphia Landlord-Tenant Lawyer can assist you in recovery of your security deposit.  Under the law, a landlord must provide a list within thirty days of termination of the lease or surrender of the premises, specifying any damages for which the tenant is liable.  Delivery of the list shall be accompanied by payment of the difference between the security deposit and the actual amount of damages.  The landlord may also refuse to return the security deposit if rent has gone unpaid, or if another condition of the lease is breached.

Pursuant to 250.212(b), any landlord who fails to provide a written list within thirty days forfeits their right to withhold any portion of the deposit, or to bring suit against the tenant for damages to the apartment.

If the landlord fails to return the security deposit and provide a written list of damages, the tenant may sue the landlord for double the amount of the original security deposit.  At the hearing, the landlord may present argument that the deposit was withheld because of damages to the premises.  The burden will be on the landlord to prove damages.

The right to return of one’s security deposit cannot be waived by contract.  This means that a tenant can recover their security deposit, even if language in their lease would otherwise preclude them from making a recovery.

Finally, for the tenant to successfully recover their deposit they must provide the landlord with notice of their new address in writing upon termination. Failure to provide notice relieves the landlord of the obligation to return the funds.

If you are a tenant faced with a landlord who is wrongfully withholding your deposit, contact a Philadelphia Landlord-Tenant lawyer to get your deposit back.  Our office handles an array of tenant issues, and is prepared to provide aggressive representation.  Call us for a consultation at (267) 535-9776,

Illegal Lockouts

It is illegal for a landlord to engage in what is called “self-help” eviction. A landlord must not change the locks on a tenant without first getting court approval. If a landlord has locked you out of a property without first going to court, contact the Philadelphia Police and tell them the landlord has violated the Philadelphia Anti-Lockout Ordinance. If you can establish you live at the property, the police will assist you in getting back into the property. The landlord will be informed that he must go through the courts to obtain possession.

The City Counsel of Philadelphia has passed Chapter 9-1600.  This Anti-Lockout Ordinance is a prohibition against unlawful eviction practices.  The Ordinance authorizes the local police to assist tenants who have been evicted by their Landlords without court process.  The ordinance also imposes penalties on any individual who engages in self-help eviction.  For more information on the Ordinance click here.

Tenant Rights

Right of Appeal.

Tenants have an automatic right to appeal a Municipal Court decision to the Court of Common Pleas.

Request for Reasonable Accommodation.

Tenants with disabilities may be entitled to certain concessions from the landlords.

Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment.

You have a right to be free from disturbances from others, including your landlord. This may include a right to reasonable notice if the landlord is coming into your home.

Right to Habitability.

Tenants have a right to rent a dwelling that is fit for its intended purpose. If the property is in violation of the Housing Code does not have the requisite licenses, you may be entitled to relief.

Right to Deduct and Repair.

If there is a material issue with the property, the tenant may be entitled to make the repairs from the rent. Speak with a landlord-tenant attorney about following the proper procedures.

Right to Your Security Deposit.

You are entitled to return of your security deposit at conclusion of the lease. While deductions can be made for damage to the property, reasonable wear is not a basis for withholding. If your security deposit is not returned without a written letter stating the reasons for withholding, you may be entitled to double the amount of your deposit.

Right of Replevin.

If the landlord seizes your property, you have a right file a complaint of replevin. You may recover your property plus special damages.

Freedom From Retaliatory Evictions.

If you as a tenant report the property for defects, you cannot then be evicted on a pre-textual basis. Under the law, you may not be evicted until the property defects are repaired.

Freedom From Self Help Evictions.

In Pennsylvania, landlords cannot change the locks or constructively evict a tenant without getting a judgment of possession from the courts. If the landlord tries to remove you from the property without a judgment, you are entitled to re-enter the property.


Back Rent Forgiven; Philly Tenants Stays

Back Rent Forgiven; Philly Tenants Stays
Attorney Copoulos represented Pastor G.M. in a Landlord-Tenant dispute. GM was living in an uninhabitable environment. GM received a Notice of Eviction from his landlord, and did not know what to do. He called the Law Office of Mark D. Copoulos. Mr. Copoulos analyzed the situation. The Landlord’s Housing Inspection License was out of date. GM also performed many hours of labor for the Landlord without payment. In court, the Landlord agreed to forgive over $2,895.00 in back rent. GM was permitted to stay on the property. Payments would resume after the property was deemed habitable.

$3,700 to Tenant in Security Deposit Case

$3,700.00 for Tenant in Security Deposit Case
R.G. and B.M. were upstanding, white collar tenants who paid their rent on time. At the end of their lease they left the property in a clean condition and vacated the unit. B.M. and R.G. then moved out of state. Four months passed without any notification concerning their security deposit. After four months S.F. informed R.G. he would not return their deposit or last months’ rent totaling $3,700.00. R.G. retained Mark Copoulos to file a Landlord-Tenant claim in Philadelphia Municipal Court. R.G. and B.M. were awarded $2,950.00. The case was not over. The disgruntled Landlord filed an appeal. Copoulos then obtained a judgment of $3,700.00 before a board of three arbitrators on appeal. This was the entire security deposit and last months’ rent sought by Tenants.

Please Note: Case results depend on a variety of factors.  Case results listed herein do not guarantee a similar result in your case.

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