RESOLUTION OPPOSING PA HOUSE BILLS 1154, 929 AND 908 RESTRICTING TENANT RIGHTS

WHEREAS, House Bill 1154, if enacted into law, would severely reduce the time required to evict a tenant and prejudice the tenant's right to due process of law, thereby increasing the likelihood of family homelessness, by:

  1. Providing only five days notice of an eviction;
  2. Requiring that an eviction hearing be held within eight days, regardless of the tenant's inability to secure counsel or to adequately prepare a defense;
  3. Limiting the time for filing an appeal to only ten days form the date of judgment, regardless of the tenant's inability to secure counsel or adequately prepare an appeal;
  4. Providing that an appeal does not act as a supersedeas, thus forcing an indigent tenant with a meritorious defense to lose his home before an appeal can be heard and nullifying any impact which a favorable outcome on appeal might otherwise have;
  5. Conditioning the right of appeal upon the posting of a bond in the amount of disputed rent, regardless of the tenant's ability to pay, thus effectively denying access to the appellate process to an indigent tenant; and

WHEREAS, House Bill 929, if enacted into law, would require aggrieved tenants wishing to appeal from a landlord-tenant judgement, unlike any other class of judgment debtors, to pay to the Prothonotary a sum equal to the amount of rent allegedly due as a condition of appeal, regardless of the tenant's ability to pay, thus stripping them of the protection of the in forma pauperis provisions of the Pennsylvania Rule of Civil and Appellate Procedure, and effectively denying indigent tenants access to the appellate process and subjecting indigent tenants with meritorious defenses to eviction without legal recourse; and

WHEREAS, House Bill 908, if enacted into law, would authorize landlords, unlike other similarly situated creditors, to attach the wages of a tenant upon receipt of a judgement for unpaid rent, whether or not the tenant has appealed the judgment and has meritorious defenses upon appeal; and

WHEREAS, House Bill 1154, 929, and 908 single out tenants for disparate treatment and impose onerous burdens upon them above and beyond other judgment debtors and civil litigants in our judicial system, as well as create privileges for landlords which exceed those provided to any other class of similarly situated creditors or civil litigants in our judicial system, and

WHEREAS, House Bill 1154, 929, and 908 deny tenants fundamental fairness and the protections of due process of law and, if enacted, will increase family evictions and promote homelessness in the City of Philadelphia;

WHEREAS, House Bill 1154, 929, and 908 affect significant rights of any tenants and were approved by the House without public hearing and other opportunity for public comment;

NOW BE IT RESOLVED THAT, the Philadelphia Bar Association opposes House Bills 1154, 929, and 908 and authorizes the Chancellor to take necessary and appropriate action to communicate this opposition to the General Assembly, the Governor and the public.

Passed: May 25, 1995
Philadelphia Bar Association
Board of Governors