The global Covid-19 pandemic has led to many issues for property owners and landlords in Pennsylvania. One of the biggest issues concerns what can happen when an individual or business falls behind on rent that they owe to their landlords. In April, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered that evictions could continue in the state’s courts beginning on May 11th. However, after the court issued its order, Governor Wolf issued an executive order on May 7th prohibiting any eviction proceedings from starting until July 10th.
The implications of the governor’s order are very widespread, which is why attorneys with our firm have filed an emergency petition with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to overturn the order. We allege that the governor lacks the constitutional authority to tell the courts what cases they can and cannot hear. As such, we requested that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court allow evictions to once again be able to proceed in courts across the state as soon as possible.
We feel that the governor’s order is restricting property owners’ rights to access courts in the state when eviction proceedings need to commence. When a residential tenant falls behind on rent or otherwise violates the terms of his or her lease in any way, right now there is nothing the property owner can do to ensure that his or her property or income is protected, as access to the courts has been cut off until July 10th at the very earliest. This can place a substantial economic burden on property owners during these difficult times.
While we are all feeling the effects of this crisis, we need to make sure that our elected officials respect the laws of the state. They cannot unilaterally make decisions that have an impact on the livelihoods of Pennsylvanians if they lack the constitutional authority to do so. We will keep you posted on this matter, and invite property owners and landlords to reach out to us with any questions they may have about their options.