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Pa. Landlords Seek Power To Clear Tenant Belongings Without Court Order

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(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A compromise landlord-tenant law that took five years to negotiate is under siege, just over a year after it passed.

It’s called “self-help” eviction, meaning landlords help themselves without waiting for court permission to clear out tenant belongings.

There are few states where it’s legal, but representative Scott Petri would like to make Pennsylvania one of them. He says the current system is cumbersome:

“When the tenant has left, they’re not paying rent and they just leave everything; the landlord has to go to court to regain possession and then throw out the items that everybody already know is junk.”

Cindy Daley of the tenants’ group, Housing Alliance says, without court oversight, landlords could ignore circumstances that might lead a tenant to vacate a property temporarily, but plan to move back:

“The tenant is maybe a victim of domestic abuse or has taken her kids to a friend’s house because it’s January and the landlord hasn’t fixed the heat.”

The Philadelphia Bar Association also opposes the bill, noting it would negate a city law that requires court permission for disposing of tenants belongings.

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