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.

Starting a Landlord-Tenant Case

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

Before starting a landlord-tenant case, you should decide if the court is the best way to solve the problem. You can solve many problems outside of court using things like mediation. Contact Good Shepherd to learn more or find a mediator for your issue.


For Landlords Dealing with an Eviction

If you are a landlord trying to evict your tenant for not paying rent, there are a few steps you must take before submitting a case in court.

  • Send Notice of Diversion Rights to your tenant
    • Hand deliver the notice or send with proof that you mailed it. Proof of mailing can be certified mail or a certificate of mailing from the post office that a first-class letter has been mailed.
    • This Notice lets your tenant know you both have the right to participate in Philadelphia's free Eviction Diversion Program. The Diversion Program helps landlords and tenants work out issues to prevent eviction.
  • Apply for the Eviction Diversion Program to schedule a mediation
    • The Eviction Diversion program will schedule you a mediation date. The mediation happens by phone. A neutral mediator will help you and your tenant see if you can work out an agreement outside of court.
    • If you have any questions, please reach out to: EvictionDiversionProgram@coraservices.org
  • Draft a Proposed Payment Agreement
    • While you wait for your mediation date, start drafting a proposed payment agreement. This can help you and your tenant come to an agreement that works for both of you. 
    • Fill in as much detail as necessary for the sections that are relevant. 
    • A housing counselor will review the proposal with your tenant and mediator.

If the issue is still not resolved, you can submit a case with the court.


Gathering Your Documents

You will need different documents depending on the kind of case you are submitting. Make sure you have your documents ready and include them when you submit your case. You may not have all the documents listed. Do your best to collect what you have so you can show the court and support your case. Remember to make copies for the court and the other side.

If you have documents that you did not submit with your original case you can still use them. Send them to the other side at least 10 days before your hearing.


For Landlords: Overdue Rent or Evictions

You will need these documents if you are a landlord and your tenant owes you rent or if you want to evict your tenant:

  • A written lease, if you have one (if not, you can mark that it is a spoken lease)
  • A current Business Privilege License
  • A current Housing Inspection License
    • If the rental unit is a multiple-family property, rooming house, dormitory, hotel, a one-family property, a two-family property, or a rooming unit
  • A completed Certificate of Rental Suitability that was given to the tenant
  • A Lead-Safe Certificate
  • Unpaid utility bills
    • If the lease requires the tenant to pay them
  • A copy of the Notice to Quit letter
    • Unless the lease says that no notice is required.
    • This letter tells the tenant that they must leave the property because:
      • Rent is overdue
      • The rental term of the lease has ended
      • The tenant has broken a rule of the lease
    • The letter must also tell the tenant the date they need to leave the property.
    • Unless the lease specifies a different time period, the landlord must give the renter:
      • 10 days if rent is overdue
      • 15 days if the tenant has broken a rule and they have rented the unit for less than a year
      • 30 days if the tenant has broken a rule and they have rented the unit for more than a year

For Landlords: Repair Costs

  • A written lease
  • Photos of the damage
  • Proof of payment, invoices, and estimates for the repair
  • Other documents (like communication) about the damage

For Tenants: Getting a Security Deposit Back

  • A written lease
  • Proof that you returned the key and told the landlord where to send your security deposit
  • Proof that you asked for the security deposit back
  • Communication (like letters, emails, messages) from the landlord explaining why the full amount of the security deposit was not given back.

Subpoenas

The court tells the other side to give you documents

If there are documents you need to support your case, you can ask for them. You should try and ask the other side for the documents first. If they will not or are unable to give you the documents, you can ask them with a court form. This is called a subpoena. A subpoena means they need to give you the documents. If they do not give you the documents, they might be arrested or have to pay a fine. You can ask for documents from anyone by giving them a completed Subpoena Form.


Here is how you fill out a Subpoena form:

  • Include your claim number
  • Complete the caption of the case. The caption is your claim number, the other side's name and address, and your name and address.
  • Include the name of the other side getting the subpoena
  • Explain in detail what documents you want from the other side
  • Take the Subpoena Form to the First Filing Unit so it can get a court seal
    • 1339 Chestnut Street, 10th floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107
  • Pay the $3.30 fee with cash, credit, or debit card

If you have any questions, please contact the First Filing Unit at 215-686-2901


Information About the Other Side

Because you are suing someone else, you are called the plaintiff. The other side is called the defendant. Make sure you know the name and address of the other side you want to sue. Do not include titles such as Mr. or Ms. The address cannot be a post office box. If the other side is a corporation or other organization, make sure you have the correct name.

It is important to make sure you are including the correct organization in your lawsuit. For more information on organizations in Pennsylvania, contact Pennsylvania’s Corporation Bureau. You can ​​check if an organization has a Philadelphia business privilege license. Contact the Department of Licenses and Inspections’ License Issuance Unit to learn more. You will need the business address and the name of the right person at the business to sue them.



Submitting the Case

You can submit a Landlord-Tenant case if you are the tenant or property owner. If you are a tenant or a property owner, you can also allow someone else to take action for you. You can do this by filling out the Authorized Representative Form.


Submit in Person


  • Go to the court - First Filing Unit office on the 10th floor of 1339 Chestnut Street, Room 1000. 
    • You can also allow someone else to take action for you. If you are out of state or an elderly person, you may want to have a representative go to court for you. You can do this by filling out the Authorized Representative Form. They are not allowed to submit a case for you without filling out this form first. If your lawyer is a member of the bar they do not need to fill out the form.
  • Complete the paperwork. The court has interviewers to help you complete the right paperwork. The interviewers cannot give you legal advice. 
  • Pay the fee. The fee will pay for your case to be processed and for someone to tell the other side about the case (this is called service of process). To learn more about how to tell someone about a lawsuit, watch this short video. Find out how much you will have to pay to submit a case. We accept Money Orders, Business Checks, and Attorney Checks. We do not accept personal checks. Checks should be made payable to The Office of Judicial Records.
    • If you are unable to pay the fee, you can submit a Petition to Proceed In Forma Pauperis Form. The judge will decide if you do not need to pay the fee based on your income and expenses. Bring proof that you cannot afford the fee when you go to court. 

Submit by Mail


  • Download, print, and complete the Landlord-Tenant Form Packet. Make sure you type the form. Remember to clearly explain the reason you are submitting a case and include dates when possible.
    • Complete the Affidavit of Non-Military Form for each individual person you are suing. This is not needed if the other side is a business or organization.
    • Complete the Questionnaire for Rental Assistance
  • Sign the form
    • If you represent a corporation, you must be an executive officer (President, Vice President, Secretary, or Treasurer). You must also go to Court in person unless you complete an Authorized Representative Form. You must also include proof that you are an executive officer. We can accept minutes of a meeting, articles of incorporation, or a signed tax return. 
  • Include a copy of all the documents you need for your case. Review the documents you need to include above. 
  • Include a stamped envelope addressed to the person you are suing. We will use this to send copies to them as well.
  • Include the fee. The fee will pay for your case to be processed and for someone to tell the other side about the case (this is called service of process). To learn more about how to tell someone about a lawsuit, watch this short video. Find out how much you will have to pay to submit a case here. Make the check payable to The Office of Judicial Records. 
    • If you are unable to pay the fee, you can submit a Petition to Proceed In Forma Pauperis Form. The judge will decide if you do not need to pay the fee. Bring proof that you cannot afford the fee when you go to court.
  • Include a self-addressed and stamped envelope. We will use this to send you the hearing information.
  • You can call us at 215-686-7988 to confirm that all your documents and fees are correct.
  • Mail your packet to the First Filing Department
    • 1339 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Once the court processes the case, you will receive a packet of information. This packet will have your case files, relevant forms, and affidavits (sworn statements). It will also include instructions to create a Case Participant Account. A Case Participant Account allows you to view your confidential documents and other information online.

Relisting a Case

Relisting a case means you are trying to submit the case again. There are a few reasons this might happen. When you submit a case, you must tell the other side that they are being sued. Sometimes the other side cannot be contacted. Other times, a case may be dismissed or ended early. This can happen if there are mistakes or errors in the case. This is called “dismissed without prejudice”. If your case was dismissed without prejudice, you can fix any issues with your case and then submit it again.


You can relist a case with the Second Filing Unit.
1339 Chestnut Street, 10th floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107
215-686-7980


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