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How to Evict a Family Member in Pennsylvania

Things probably started out just fine. A family member - maybe a parent, a sibling, a child, a cousin or anyone else - needed a place to stay or help was needed with the rent. Now, though, the situation has deteriorated and it's time for the family member to leave. Except he or she won't go. So what to do now? How is a family member evicted in Pennsylvania?


Evicting a Family Member in Pennsylvania is Tricky

As living expenses rise, more people are living together as a way to save money. This includes family members. Usually having a family member as a roommate is intended as a temporary solution.


Yet as time goes on, short term turns into long term and the family member shows no signs of moving out. Or maybe he or she just quit paying rent. Or he or she is partying too much.

But actually getting the related roommate out of a Pennsylvania home depends on a number of factors.

Is the Family Member on the Lease?

If the family member is on the lease, then the only person who can kick out the family member is the landlord, but even a landlord needs a legally valid reason to throw someone out if that person is on the lease. These reasons usually include not paying rent, using the home for illegal purposes or otherwise breaking the terms of the lease in some way.

The exception to this is if the family member is threatening or is violent. If this is the case, then the court can issue a restraining order and the family member must leave immediately.

It's worth remembering that a family member on the lease is actually a co-tenant and has much right to live in the apartment/house as any other roommate.

Now What?

Unfortunately for Pennsylvania resident, options are limited for removing family members on the lease. Nicely asking him or her to leave is an option, but this doesn't always work and can lead to more conflict.

If the family member signed an agreement outlining rules of the house, everything from noise limits to cleaning duties and he or she breaks the agreement, then he probably cannot be evicted but can be sued for damages in small claims court.

Examples might include a family member having loud parties that interfere with work from home or the family member not paying his or her share of the utilities.

renters rights

While these situations could be grounds for suing, the risk is that suing might anger the family member but not enough to make him or her move out.

Talking to the landlord to see if he can get the family member to budge, but most landlords are content to leave things be as long as they are getting their rent and their property is not being damaged.

An exception would be the landlord seeing that the family member is breaking the lease in some way, such as selling drugs from the home (illegal use of the property) or has a dog when pets are specifically forbidden in the lease.

This is trickym though, because the family member could claim that the dog belongs to all of the roommates and the landlord could decide to evict everyone in the rental unit. In Pennsylvania, this is particularly true if the lease has a joint and/or several liability clause, which essentially means that all the tenants on a lease can be held responsible for what other tenants do.

The landlord might be a reasonable person (or corporation), though, and decide to evict only the family member If this is the case, it will take time. The landlord must follow the law, which involves giving the family member notice of the eviction and time to remedy the situation.

For example, if the grounds for the eviction are that the family member has a dog and pets are forbidden according to the lease, then the landlord has to give the family member adequate time to find the dog a new home. If the family member does this, then he or she cannot be evicted. He or she can stay in the home and chances are he or she will not be happy with other people in the house.


It is possible, too, that the family member may just ignore the eviction notice and decide to stay in the home. In this case, the landlord will have to go to court to ask a judge to tell the family member to go. If the judge agrees, then the sheriff will come to escort the family member out of the property. If, though, the landlord loses in court, then the family member can stay.

Things That Cannot Be Done with Regard to a Pennsylvania Family Member Roommate

No matter how obnoxious the family member is, there are things that the state of Pennsylvania says cannot be legally done to make him or her vacate the home.

For example, no one threaten him or her. The locks cannot be changed. No one can take the family member's personal property. If this happens, the person doing these things could be looking at criminal charges. No family member is worth that.

Is the Family Member Not on the Lease?

If the family member is not on the lease then there are more options for getting rid of him or her.

This is also tricky. If the family member is not on the lease because he or she came to stay without the landlord knowing, then everyone in the rental unit might be breaking the lease terms and end up facing eviction.


If, though, the family member lives in the house with the landlord's express or implicit permission - many landlords will let a family member stay in the home without signing the lease, or they will turn a blind eye to an extra tenant - then the family member can be evicted.

There are, though, rules to follow, particularly in Pennsylvania.

If the eviction is for failure to pay rent, then the roommate must be given at least 10 days notice to leave.


If the eviction is for something other than non-payment of rent, then the family member must be given at least 15 days notice if he or she has lived in the home for less than a year. He must be given 30 days notice if the family member has lived in the home for more than one year. Please check with Pennsylvania's state eviction statutes or talk to an attorney to verfify this timeframe and other timeframes as they may change.

This deadline must be in writing and say that the living arrangement is being terminated and the family member is expected to be out of the property within 10, 15 or 30 days. The notice must include reasons why the family member must go.

Pennsylvania law states that the eviction notice must be hand delivered or posted in a conspicuous place at the leased property. A notice must also be sent to the family member via certified mail to prove that he or she received it.

If the family member ignores the eviction notice or thinks he or she has grounds to stay in the unit, then the situation will end up in court. Pennsylvania law requires that each tenant and landlord be represented by an attorney during this process. All relevant documentation must be gathered and given to the lawyer. Members of the household must also be prepared to be stuck with the family member and have to pay his legal costs if he or she wins the case.

If the landlord is aware of the family member and okay with him or her being in the home, then the landlord might help evict the family member. The downside with this that is a landlord - even a tolerant one - might just decide to evict everyone in the home and start fresh with new tenants. He would have legal grounds to do so if the family member is not on the lease because the lease terms would have been broken by having an illegal tenant.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is evicting a family member in Pennsylvania is not easy. Evicting anyone anywhere is not easy, even for landlords with solid legal grounds. It is a complicated, contentious and often costly process.

Get Help

Ask a Pennsylvania Eviction Law Question, Get an Answer ASAP!

If, though, it is time to evict a family member, then it is a good idea to talk to an experienced Pennsylvania eviction lawyer before proceeding. One small misstep could mean it is not just the family member looking for a new home. A good lawyer can help resolve the situation while keeping family ties intact.



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