PA Superior Court Backs Tenant’s Rights

A recent Pennsylvania Superior Court ruling1 has affirmed the right of tenants to “pay and stay” when facing legal proceedings brought by landlords trying to collect unpaid rent.

The decision means tenants may avoid eviction if they pay the amount stipulated by a judge, but not additional rent that may have accumulated since the case was in court. The ruling will make it easier for tenants to stay in their homes.

The case involved a Philadelphia couple that fell behind on their rent in 2011. The landlord got an order from the Philadelphia Municipal Court ordering them to pay about $1,800 in back rent. When the couple missed an installment payment, the landlord sought to have them evicted.

When the couple tried to pay the back rent, the landlord refused it and continued with the eviction.

With the support of the Tenant Union Representative Network, the couple appealed to the Superior Court, arguing the state’s Landlord Tenant Act protected them. Despite recent rulings by the Municipal Court and Common Pleas Court, the Superior Court said previous practice in Philadelphia and throughout the state allowed tenants to “pay and stay” by paying the amount initially determined by a court.

The Superior Court overturned the lower courts, citing the Landlord and Tenant Act as well as Philadelphia Municipal Court rules.

More information from the AIDS Law Project on landlord/tenant issues is available here.

1 Johnson v. Bullock-Freeman, 2013 PA Superior 16