What you need to know about your code enforcement case and hearing
When a person or organization breaks a city code, like real estate taxes or business taxes, city agencies can ask them to fix it. If the issue is not fixed, the city agency can submit a case in Municipal Court and a hearing is scheduled. If you want to resolve the issue without having to go to court, contact the agency that sent you the code violation.
Code & Public Nuisance Litigation Unit
1515 Arch Street, 15th floor Philadelphia, PA 19102
Code Enforcement hearings happen on the 6th Floor of 1339 Chestnut Street.
You can find the date, courtroom, and time of the hearing on the Statement of Claim document, the original filing.
Your first hearing will be with a trial commissioner. You will have the chance to talk to someone from the City of Philadelphia or other filing agency to discuss their side. You might be able to reach an agreement. If you can’t reach an agreement, the case will be transferred to a hearing with a judge. Ideally this will be on the same day, but sometimes the case will be rescheduled for another day.
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.
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.
Please help us keep the court safe for everyone by following these guidelines:
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.
Don’t Be Late – If you are late, you might automatically lose the case. This is called a Default Judgment.
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.
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.
Learn what it is like in court and what legal words mean. Watch this short video Legal Language.
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.
Mail the letter to 1339 Chestnut Street Room 1020, Philadelphia, PA 19107
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:
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
Businesses, corporations, and partnerships can be sued. If you represent an organization, you must be an executive officer (President, Vice President, Secretary, or Treasurer). Bring proof that you are allowed to speak for the organization. Proof could be things like articles of incorporation showing that you are an officer of the corporation. You may also complete and bring an Authorized Representative Form.