How To Collect a Landlord-Tenant Judgment in Pennsylvania

Many landlords know how to file an eviction action against a tenant who has failed to pay their rent. After the tenant is evicted, the landlord is completely aggravated since their rental property has not produced any income for months while the tenant has stayed in possession of the property without paying rent. The situation could also cause the landlord’s mortgage to fall into default only making matters worse.

Following the eviction hearing, the landlord will likely obtain a judgment for possession and for the rent in arrears that is owed. Most landlords simply want possession of the property back so they can locate a qualified tenant who has the ability to pay rent and they give up on collecting on the judgment. Collecting a judgment from a tenant can be quite a daunting task. However, it is not impossible and hopeless.

Pennsylvania Law Allows Landlords To Garnish Wages

Pennsylvania law recently allowed the attachment of wages for money judgments obtained by a landlord arising out of a residential lease. This law went into effect on January 21, 2006. The law directs the employer of the defendant (the garnishee) to garnish 10% of the defendant’s net wages once the proper procedure for garnishing wages is followed. In order to start the process, you’ll need the tenant’s new residential address or the address of their employer.

If the tenant shows up at the magistrate eviction hearing, use that as an opportunity to gain information from the tenant about where they are employed or where they may be moving to. Additionally, prior to executing the lease, a rental application should be used to gain information from the tenant regarding their date of birth, social security number, prior addresses, and the name and address of their current and prior employers.

Pennsylvania Wage Garnishment Process

After a judgment is obtained from the magistrate court, the judgment must then be entered in the County Court of Common Pleas. It is advised to consult with an attorney to enter a magistrate judgment in the County Court of Common Pleas.

Once a judgment is entered in the Court or Common Pleas, the landlord can proceed by filing a Praecipe for Notice of Intent to Attach Wages. This Notice must then be served by the sheriff as if it were service of original process in a civil complaint. That is why knowing where the tenant is located or employed is critical to pursuing collection efforts. If the tenant has taken off for parts unknown, you may be out of luck.

Once the tenant is served with this Notice, they then have an opportunity to file a claim within thirty (30) days that they are exempt from wage garnishment because their income is below the federal poverty guidelines. Assuming that the tenant has been served by the sheriff and nothing has been filed by the tenant within thirty (30) days, the landlord can proceed by requesting a Writ of Attachment from the Court which formally directs the tenant’s employer to garnish the tenant’s wages. You are then on your way to getting the judgment you obtained satisfied.

Pennsylvania Landlord Judgment Collection Attorney

If you are looking for a landlord-tenant attorney to help you collect a money judgment arising out of a residential lease in Pennsylvania, please contact me at (610) 417-6345 or email me. I practice in Northampton and Lehigh County and am happy to assist landlords throughout the Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton areas.

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