May 22, 2022

Volume XII, Number 142

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May 20, 2022

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COVID-19: Pennsylvania Notice Requirements in Eviction Proceedings Suspended Through July 10

On May 7, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order that stays the notice requirements for certain foreclosure actions and for eviction proceedings. While directed expressly at residential evictions, this order also appears to suspend until July 10, 2020, the ability of a commercial landlord to commence an eviction proceeding if the commercial tenant has not waived in the lease its right to receive a notice under the Pennsylvania Landlord and Tenant Act.

The Pennsylvania Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951, 68 P.S. §250.101 et. seq., requires a landlord to provide a written notice—commonly referred to as a Notice to Quit—to a tenant prior to commencing an eviction proceeding unless in the lease the tenant has waived its right to receive that notice. The governor’s executive order stays this notice requirement until July 10, 2020, thereby tolling a commercial landlord’s ability to commence an eviction proceeding if the tenant has not waived in the lease its right to receive a Notice to Quit. In a news conference on May 7, 2020, Attorney General Josh Shapiro explained that “the practical effect of the governor’s order is to press pause on evictions until July 10, 2020, at which time the normal process can resume.”

The order does not affect a tenant’s obligation to pay rent in accordance with the terms of the lease. The governor and the attorney general explained in the news conference that the purpose of the order is to prevent the social interaction and spread of COVID-19 that could be caused by foreclosures or evictions, not to forgive payments, which could be due later with interest and/or late fees.

Although the recitals in the order explaining its purpose refer only to displacement of individuals from their homes, the order does not distinguish between residential or commercial tenants and makes no mention of any basis for delaying commercial evictions. When asked by a reporter if the eviction stay order applies to “businesses,” Attorney General Shapiro responded that “it would depend on the specific situation, [but] generally speaking, yes, . . . the eviction . . . process cannot begin to occur until July 10.”

As a result, it appears to be the case that a commercial tenant that has not waived in the lease its right to receive a Notice to Quit under Section 501 of the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951 could take the position in an eviction action that this stay applies to it and to any Notice to Quit under Section 501 that it receives prior to July 10, 2020, and that such notice is not deemed to be delivered to the tenant until July 10, 2020.

Copyright 2022 K & L GatesNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 134
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About this Author

Pierce Richardson, KL Gates Law Firm, Real Estate and Investment Attorney
Partner

Mr. Richardson practices transactional real estate law. His practice is concentrated on real estate development (retail, office, commercial and industrial facilities), including land acquisition, zoning, subdivision, utility, roadway and other land development matters, property acquisitions and sales, leasing, and all aspects of real estate finance. He has represented national developers in connection with the development of retail and commercial centers, office buildings and light industrial facilities, and has represented purchasers and sellers of regional shopping...

412-355-6786
Grant T. Martin Real Estate K&L Gates Pittsburgh, PA
Associate

Grant Martin is an associate in the firm’s Pittsburgh office and a member of the real estate practice group. He has experience in all aspects of transactional real estate law, including acquisitions, sales, leasing, financing, development, and land use. He has represented clients in the retail, office, industrial, oil and gas, renewable energy, and hospitality industries.

Primary Practice

  • Real Estate

412.355.8251
Pierce Richardson, KL Gates Law Firm, Real Estate and Investment Attorney
Partner

Mr. Richardson practices transactional real estate law. His practice is concentrated on real estate development (retail, office, commercial and industrial facilities), including land acquisition, zoning, subdivision, utility, roadway and other land development matters, property acquisitions and sales, leasing, and all aspects of real estate finance. He has represented national developers in connection with the development of retail and commercial centers, office buildings and light industrial facilities, and has represented purchasers and sellers of regional shopping...

412-355-6786
Grant T. Martin Real Estate K&L Gates Pittsburgh, PA
Associate

Grant Martin is an associate in the firm’s Pittsburgh office and a member of the real estate practice group. He has experience in all aspects of transactional real estate law, including acquisitions, sales, leasing, financing, development, and land use. He has represented clients in the retail, office, industrial, oil and gas, renewable energy, and hospitality industries.

Primary Practice

  • Real Estate

412.355.8251
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