Notice: All courts will be closed on Monday, May 27, 2024 in observance of MEMORIAL DAY, except Municipal Court's Arraignment Court, Bail Acceptance and the filing of Emergency Protection from Abuse Petitions at the Stout Center for Criminal Justice, 1301 Filbert St.

Landlord-Tenant Hearings

What you need to know about your Landlord-Tenant hearing


NOTICE

Currently, we are accepting new cases in person. Appointments are preferred.

  • For questions about submitting a new case call 215-686-7988
  • For questions about relisting a case or submitting a petition call 215-686-7980
  • For questions about submitting a writ of possession or alias writ of possession call 215-686-7989

Landlord-Tenant hearings happen on the 6th Floor of 1339 Chestnut Street.

You can find the date, courtroom, and time of the hearing on the third page of the Landlord-Tenant Complaint document, the original filing.








Asking for a Zoom or Phone Hearing for ADA related Accommodations

If you are not able to attend your hearing due to an existing disability, you can ask for a Zoom or phone hearing. With a Zoom or phone hearing, you can participate in your hearing without coming to court. Email or call the court at least 5 days before the hearing to ask for a Zoom or phone hearing.

If you do not ask the court for a Zoom or phone hearing on time, the court will decide if they can accept your request. You have a better chance of getting a Zoom or phone hearing if you ask as soon as possible and submit your documents before to the hearing.

Learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act


To participate in a Zoom hearing:

  • Give the court and the other side all documents, including photos, that you will use during the hearing
    • Email the documents to mcclaims@courts.phila.gov as a .PDF attachment ONLY
    • The subject line of the email must have your case’s docket number and your name
    • If you have scanned photos in the CLAIMS system, these do not need to be sent
    • Send the documents to the other side as an email attachment
    • If you do not have the other side’s email address, send copies of the documents with first-class mail, and prepay for the postage.
    • You will be required to submit a Certificate of Compliance and/or Confidential Document Form, provided by the Court.
    • If you cannot complete the Certificate of Compliance, you may create one yourself with the following text and include your signature:
      • “I certify that this filing complies with the provisions of the Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania: Case Records of the Appellate and Trial Courts that require filing confidential information and documents differently than non-confidential information and documents”
  • Join the Zoom meeting at least 5 minutes before the court hearing is scheduled to start. The court will send an email in advance with the information you need to join the Zoom hearing.
    • Include your phone number and the phone numbers of your lawyer and any witnesses.
    • Everyone must be able to get a phone call from the court.
  • You cannot record the hearing, but you can take informal notes. The court will record the hearing. They may also record a transcript.

Learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act Policy and Accommodation Form


To participate in a phone hearing:

  • Give the court and the other side all documents, including photos, that you will use during the hearing
    • Email the documents to mcclaims@courts.phila.gov as a .PDF attachment ONLY
    • The subject line of the email must have your case’s docket number and your name
    • If you have scanned photos in the CLAIMS system, these do not need to be sent
    • Send the documents to the other side as an email attachment
    • If you do not have the other side’s email address, send copies of the documents with first-class mail, and prepay for the postage.
  • Before the hearing, send an email to the court with the phone numbers.
    • Include your phone number and the phone numbers of your lawyer and any witnesses.
    • Everyone must be able to get a phone call from the court.
  • You cannot record the hearing, but you can take informal notes. The court will record the hearing. They may also record a transcript.

Learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act Policy and Accommodation Form

Coming to Court

Please help us keep the court safe for everyone by following these guidelines:

  1. Arrive Early – You can find your arrival time on your court notice. Plan for lots of extra time to travel to court, use the elevators to get to the sixth floor, pass through security, and wash your hands before going to the courtroom. Please arrive at the courtroom at least 15 minutes early. You can plan to be in court for one to three hours.
  2. Don’t Be Late – If you are late, you might automatically lose the case. This is called a Default Judgment.
  3. Prepare Your Documents – Print copies of all documents or photos you want to use and bring them with you to court. Court staff strongly prefer printed documents rather than viewing documents on your phone. Some judges will not look at any documents or photos on your phone. Bring at least 3 copies of printed documents or photos: for yourself, for the court, and for the other side in the case.
  4. Try to Find Childcare – Children are allowed in the courtroom, however please try to find childcare for your children so that you do not have to bring them to court.

Getting Ready for Your Hearing

  • Make sure you know the time, date, and place of your hearing.
    • Landlord-Tenant hearings happen on the 6th Floor of 1339 Chestnut Street. It’s also called the Widener Building and is southeast of City Hall.
    • You can find the date, courtroom, and time of the hearing on The Statement of Claim, the original filing. You can also search for this information on our list of cases.
    • If you don’t show up, you could lose. This is called a Default Judgment.
  • Come to court early so you have time to go through security and find the right room.
  • Prepare your documents if your hearing is in Courtrooms 2, 3, 4, or 6.
    • Bring letters, canceled checks, bills of sale, contracts, agreements, pictures, receipts, credit card statements, or anything else that supports your case.
    • Talk with anyone who could be a witness and will come to the hearing with you to support your argument.
    • If you have documents that you did not submit with your original case, send them to the other side and to the court at least 10 days before the hearing.
    • Email your additional documents as a single PDF at least 10 days before your hearing to danielle.jackson@courts.phila.gov, jacquel.randall@courts.phila.gov and kimberly.price@courts.phila.gov.
  • Learn what it is like in court and what legal words mean. Watch this short video Legal Language.

The Landlord-Tenant Hearing Process

  1. Try to come to an agreement
    • The two sides have the opportunity to come to an agreement. If one side has a lawyer, both sides will meet and try to negotiate an agreement. If both sides do not have a lawyer, the court’s Dispute Resolution Unit has mediators available to help. Mediators are neutral and do not represent either side. They will help both sides draft an agreement called a Judgment by Agreement. The mediator will review and explain the agreement before both sides sign it.
    • All agreements are in writing and need to be signed by both sides. The agreements are permanent. You should not sign an agreement unless you understand it completely.
    • Mediators or judges are always available.
  2. Have a hearing with a judge
    • If you cannot come to an agreement, the case will go to a hearing with a judge.
    • Both sides should make sure to bring documents that support their case and copies for the other side.
    • Remember that a hearing is formal:
      • Be polite
      • Speak to the judge and not the other side if you have questions or comments. Sometimes a judge will allow you to speak to the other side, but generally, you should speak only to the judge.
      • Do not interrupt the judge or the other side. You will have the chance to explain your case.
  3. The court will make a decision immediately after the hearing or they will send both sides a letter with the decision after the hearing. The court will give you information about your options.

If you need additional help

  • Courtroom Navigators are available to help explain the process and connect you to resources and information.
  • The Lawyer of the Day Program can provide a free lawyer for your hearing. You must meet the low-income requirement.

Rescheduling Your Hearing

You might need to delay your hearing if you are not able to go to court on the date it is scheduled. You might also want to delay your hearing if you are looking for legal help and need more time. If you want to reschedule your hearing you can ask the court for a continuance. You must ask the court in writing at least 10 days before the hearing.


  • Write a letter to the court explaining that you’d like to request a continuance
  • Send the letter to the court
    • The letter must include the reason why you need to reschedule
    • Include your case number if you can
    • Include your phone number
    • Send the letter to John J. Joyce, Deputy Court Administrator by mail, email, or fax.
  • Send a copy to the other side in the case

If you do not ask to reschedule the hearing at least 10 days in advance, you must go to the hearing in person. At the hearing, you can ask to reschedule it. You must tell the other side in advance that you plan to request a continuance at the hearing.

Submitting an Appeal

Challenging the court decision

If you lost your case and you do not agree with the decision, you might want to challenge the decision. This is called an appeal. You have 30 days after the hearing to submit an appeal. Submitting an appeal stops the other side from taking your money after winning the case. The case will start over from the beginning in the Court of Common Pleas.

You can challenge the outcome of the case because you disagree with the evidence. If you want to challenge the court decision because you missed your hearing, learn more about how to respond to a Default Judgment above. If your request for a new hearing was denied you can submit an appeal. To submit an appeal, you need to:

  • Fill out a Notice of Appeal Form
  • Submit the form to the Court of Common Pleas
    • Submit to The Prothonotary in Room 296 of City Hall
    • 1400 John F Kennedy Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19107
  • They will give you a Case Management Order. This document includes important information about the appeal process, including the dates of a mandatory settlement conference and a trial.
  • Tell the other side about the appeal within 20 days.
    • You can use first-class mail with prepaid postage
    • You must tell the other side about the appeal in a specific way. This is called Service of Process. There are rules about how you must tell the other side. Someone has to give you a copy of the Notice to Appeal to the other side in person. If the other side has a lawyer, the Notice should be given to their lawyer. If the other side does not have a lawyer, the Notice should be given to them directly. To learn more about how to tell the other side about a lawsuit or Notice of Appeal, watch this short video.
  • The case will start over from the beginning in the Court of Common Pleas. We strongly recommended that you get a lawyer. The Court of Common Pleas has strict rules that you must follow for the appeal process. Lawyers can help make sure you follow the rules so that you do not automatically lose your case because of a broken rule. If you do not have a lawyer or if you cannot afford one, there may be several options available to you. Learn more about how to find legal help.

Responding to a Default Judgment

Challenging the court decision after missing a hearing

If you do not show up at your hearing, you will automatically lose your case. This can also happen if you are late. This is called a Default Judgment. If you did not know about the hearing or if you have a good reason for missing it, you can still challenge the decision and ask for a new hearing date if:

  • You have a good reason for missing your hearing
  • You act quickly when you find out that you missed your hearing

To challenge a default judgment:

  1. Fill out the Petition to Open Default Judgment Form and explain why you missed the hearing.
  2. Include your defenses and explain your side (if you are the one being sued).
  3. Submit your Petition to Open Default Judgment Form with the Second Filing Unit
  • 1339 Chestnut Street, 10th floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Contact the Second Filing Unit at 215-686-7983 or 215-686-7980 for more information.

Completing an Eviction

After winning a Judgment for Possession in a landlord tenant case, there are two forms landlords must submit to get their property back. If the property is residential, the tenant has 10 days to challenge the decision and submit an appeal to the Court of Common Pleas. If they do not submit an appeal and get a stay of eviction, the landlord can start to take their property back.

Here are the steps to complete an eviction:

  1. Landlord wins a Judgment for Possession.
  2. Tenant has 10 days to challenge the decision and file an Appeal with the Court of Common Pleas
  3. Landlord files a Writ of Possession at least 10 days after the judgment was entered.
  4. Landlord will pay either the Landlord Tenant Office or the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office to serve the Writ of Possession.
  5. Landlord waits an additional 11 days
  6. Landlord files Alias Writ of Possession at least 11 days after submitting the Writ of Possession. This should be at least 21 days after the hearing.
    • Judgment and Petitions Unit
    • 1339 Chestnut Street 10th floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107
    • No fees charged
  7. Landlord will pay the Landlord Tenant Officer or the Sheriff’s Office to serve the Alias Writ.
  8. The Landlord Tenant Officer or Sheriff will complete the eviction. The Alias Writ will be given to the Tenant if they are present. If the Tenant is not present, the Alias Writ will be posted onto the door of the property.
  9. For more information or questions, please contact the Judgment and Petitions Unit at 215-686-7987.

Forms

Resources


Get free legal advice or a lawyer

If you are a tenant with a low income you can get free legal advice or a lawyer from these organizations.

  • Community Legal Services
    • Call 215-981-3700
    • Free for low-income Philadelphians
    • Listen to the recording for options when you call.
    • Choose “Debt Collection or Consumer Scams” and leave a message. Tell them about your situation.
    • You will get a call back in 1-2 days.
  • SeniorLAW Center
    • Call 215-988-1242
      • Monday – Thursday, 10am - 12 pm
      • Free if you are 60 or older
      • Call and press option 2. Leave a message telling them about your situation. They will call you back.
  • Legal Clinic for the Disabled
    • Call 215-587-3158
    • Free if you have a disability, chronic illness, or are deaf or hard of hearing and have an income of 200% of the federal poverty level or less.
    • Call and press option 2
    • Leave a message telling them about your situation and they will call you back

Pay a Lawyer for Help


Call 215-686-7000 for general court information.

Contact

Business Hours

  • Monday-Friday: 9am - 5pm
  • Saturday: Closed
  • Sunday: Closed

Landlord-Tenant Information