Do You Have Family Members or Friends in Your Property That You Can’t Get Rid Of?

You invited a friend or family member to stay for a couple of weeks, while they transitioned after losing their job, ending a relationship, relocating to Philadelphia, or some other circumstance. Fast forward two months later and your utility bills have skyrocketed 30%, their belongings are strewn across your closet, and they’re receiving mail at your property. If you’re dealing with an unwanted guest or family member at your property, this article will provide you with guidance on how to proceed.
The article will help you understand how to approach removing a family member or friend who has overextended their stay. You will learn the basics of Unlawful Detainer and Ejectment, and we will also discuss options for reaching a more amicable solution.

DOES LANDLORD-TENANT LAW APPLY?

You probably want to know if the same law applies to family and friends as it does for your lease-holding tenants. Unless the family member or a friend has an executed lease agreement with you, they are not officially a tenant, so removing them from the property would not fall under landlord-tenant law. In Assouline v. Reynolds, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania noted that the Landlord-Tenant Act did not apply where a landlord-tenant relationship never existed

UNLAWFUL DETAINER AND EJECTMENT

Removing a relative or friend who is not a tenant falls under the “unlawful detainer” or ejectment law. This area of law provides you with a remedy when a friend, roommate, or family member entered your property with legal consent, and that consent has now been withdrawn.
Despite being distinct from landlord-tenant law, the process is similar. You would provide notice, file a signed “complaint in ejectment” in the Office of Judicial Records, and bring the matter in the Court of Common Pleas. You should consider hiring an attorney to handle a matter of this nature, given that if you were to represent yourself you would need to familiarize yourself with the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.

WHAT IF I PREFER A MORE AMICABLE SOLUTION?

If you are able to find a friendly solution to resolve the issue, this is likely the best approach financially and emotionally. Guests may not realize that they are overstaying their welcome, and they just need a friendly reminder! In Colonial America, this type of dilemma was handled quite gracefully: if a guest were to find a pineapple at the foot of their bed, this meant they overstayed their welcome.
In this modern day, instead of a pineapple, let your guest know that you’ve enjoyed their stay with you and, while you’d love to continue hosting them, you can’t any longer. Then, offer a solution. “Can I help you find a lovely hotel for the rest of your stay?” Or, for a guest that’s a little trickier, offer to create a clear plan to help them be independent and get into their own place!
 
Ultimately, the path forward is up to you, and we are here to help. Whether you’re interested in selling your property, exhausted by being a landlord, or anywhere in between, we look forward to working together!

Disclaimer: The content provided on this page is general consumer information, not legal or regulatory advice. The information above may include links to third-party resources. We do not endorse the third-party or guarantee the accuracy of this information.