Every landlord will almost inevitably run into the age-old problem of what to do when a renter fails to pay his or her monthly rent. Many times, a landlord will try negotiating directly with the delinquent tenant before initiating eviction proceedings, since an occupied but delinquent unit is generally preferable to a vacant unit. This assumes that the delinquent unit’s tenant eventually pays the past due rent and any additional late fees that may be described in the lease.
Assuming the delinquent tenant refuses to pay the past due rent and additional late fees, a landlord must first review the lease to see if the lease requires the landlord to provide notice to the tenant of the tenant’s failure to pay rent. This notice is typically called a notice of default. A notice of default will notify the tenant that they are in default under the lease for failure to pay rent, that they have so many days to pay the outstanding amount due and cure the default, and that eviction proceedings will be commenced if the tenant fails to pay. If a landlord is not required to provide a notice of default under the lease, the tenant will be deemed to be in default under the lease for non-payment of rent and the landlord may begin the eviction process.
The first and arguably most critical step in the multifamily eviction process is ensuring that the delinquent tenant is properly served with a notice to quit. The contents and service requirements for a notice to quit for nonpayment of rent are governed by statute. If a notice to quit does not contain the required statutory information or is improperly served, the court may dismiss the landlord’s eviction action. In addition to any cure period permitted in a notice of default, a notice to quit must give a delinquent tenant ten (10) days to pay the outstanding amounts owed before the landlord may continue the eviction process. To properly serve the notice to quit, service must strictly comply with the applicable statute regardless of how service may be effected under the lease e.g., sending a notice to quit to a delinquent tenant by electronic mail will not comply with the statutory service requirements even if the lease allows notices by electronic mail.
In addition to Pennsylvania’s statutory requirements for a notice to quit, additional eviction requirements may be imposed depending on where the property is located and if the property or delinquent tenant is subject to a specialty housing program, such as one operated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. For example, a Philadelphia landlord may be prevented from terminating a delinquent tenant’s lease if a violation has been found against the leased premises.
A landlord must ensure that proper notice is given to a delinquent tenant before running off to the courthouse. Failing to give proper notice will both unnecessarily prolong the eviction process and incur additional costs for the landlord.
For leasing and landlord related questions, please contact Michael J. Haviland, Esq. at firstname.lastname@example.org
 68 P.S. 250.501
 Regulation of Business, Trades and Professions, The Phila. Code, § 9-804(2)(a) (1962).