PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION RESOLUTION OPPOSING HOUSE BILL 71, PRINTER’S NO. 75 AND ANY SIMILAR LEGISLATION AMENDING THE LANDLORD TENANT ACT OF 1951

WHEREAS, House Bill 71, Printer’s No. 75 (“HB 71”), introduced into the General Assembly, would shorten the time period for eviction of residential tenants from twenty-one (21) to twelve (12) days after judgment for possession; and

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association has a long history of opposing bills that accelerate the time period for an eviction, including a Resolution passed in 1995 and numerous letters written by several Chancellors, who most recently sent letters in 2016 and 2018 opposing similar bills; and

WHEREAS, Article 5, Section 10 (c) of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides that the Supreme Court has authority to establish rules for enforcing judgments, for all the Courts of the Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania made its authority regarding rule-making clear in Laudenberger v. Port Authority, 436 A. 2d 147, 152 (Pa. 1981), holding that “the Pennsylvania Constitution grants the Judiciary and the Judiciary alone power over rule-making;” and

WHEREAS, the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania Philadelphia Municipal Court Civil Division Local Rules provides in Rule 126 that for a residential lease, eviction can occur after twenty-one (21) days after judgment for possession; and

WHEREAS, HB 71 would amend a law that dealt with time frames for eviction of a tenant after judgment for possession, and such law was suspended by the Supreme Court in 1966; and

WHEREAS, HB 71, by accelerating the time for evictions, would cause many Pennsylvanians human suffering, family disruption and financial damage; and

WHEREAS, HB 71 would increase homelessness because of difficulty finding alternative housing in only twelve (12) days; and

WHEREAS, HB 71 would increase unemployment, as lack of a permanent address or facilities to prepare for work can render a person unemployed; and

WHEREAS, lack of shelter can cause the disruption of children’s education and harm to their well-being, and can even cause the destruction of families through the loss of child custody because the parent has no home; and

WHEREAS, in addition to the human suffering, homelessness also creates a strain on public finances as government agencies must provide costly resources to handle the resulting social and shelter problems; and

WHEREAS, it is very important for tenants to have time to access information about their rights and obtain legal representation not only before judgment, but also after judgment for possession; and

WHEREAS, the City of Philadelphia has recently invested substantial funding into tenant representation through the Philadelphia Eviction Prevent Project, and the impact of a shortened time for eviction would seriously undermine the effectiveness of the program; and

WHEREAS, the Stout Report prepared for the Philadelphia Bar Association in 2018 documents in detail the hardships tenants suffer from eviction, the costs to the City from displacement and disruption caused by eviction, and the benefits of expanded legal representation and other resources for tenants facing eviction; See: https://www.philadelphiabar.org/WebObjects/PBA.woa/Contents/WebServerResources/CMSResources/PhiladelphiaEvictionsReport.pdf;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Philadelphia Bar Association opposes House Bill 71, Printer’s No. 75, or any similar legislation that would reduce the time for evictions, which clearly violates Article 5, Section 10(c) of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which grants the Judiciary sole power to establish court procedures.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Chancellor and/or the Chancellor’s designee(s) shall communicate the Philadelphia Bar Association’s position opposing the shortened time frame for eviction provided in House Bill 71, Printer’s No. 75, explaining the constitutional basis for opposing such legislation, and opposing any similar legislation to the Governor, the General Assembly, the legal community and the public and take whatever action is necessary to effectuate this resolution.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: March 29, 2019