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post move out summons/sued for damages : PENNSYLVANIA

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  • post move out summons/sued for damages : PENNSYLVANIA

    A good friend has a problem with complicated circumstances:
    1 - she was a tennant in a property since before the current owner took possession. (previous landlord declared bankruptcy)
    2 - she was not under any lease agreement still in force with prior landlord, nor was she asked to sign a new lease with the current owner. (She was simply asked to redirect rent to the new owner)
    3 - neither the prior landlord nor the new one performed any inspections on the rental property during the change of possesion.
    4 - the new landlord never requested, nor scheudled a move out inspection after being given notice by her (written) of vacating the property.
    5 - her only feedback from this process has been that she has been served a summons to appear before a magistrate for owing 2300 in damages (3.5x the rent) with no reason given (what damages, nor what basis they have in assuming she is responsible for them)

    I want to help her "abate" this. She should not have to appear unless the plaintiff provides some basis for the charge... Thoughts? .

  • #2
    Re: post move out summons/sued for damages : PENNSYLVANIA

    Originally posted by cdub View Post
    A good friend has a problem with complicated circumstances:
    1 - she was a tennant in a property since before the current owner took possession. (previous landlord declared bankruptcy)
    2 - she was not under any lease agreement still in force with prior landlord, nor was she asked to sign a new lease with the current owner. (She was simply asked to redirect rent to the new owner)
    3 - neither the prior landlord nor the new one performed any inspections on the rental property during the change of possesion.
    4 - the new landlord never requested, nor scheudled a move out inspection after being given notice by her (written) of vacating the property.
    5 - her only feedback from this process has been that she has been served a summons to appear before a magistrate for owing 2300 in damages (3.5x the rent) with no reason given (what damages, nor what basis they have in assuming she is responsible for them)

    I want to help her "abate" this. She should not have to appear unless the plaintiff provides some basis for the charge... Thoughts? .
    I would suspect that the new LL already made a demand from your friend for these damages prior to filing the lawsuit. Since your friend failed to acknowledge or pay the damages, presumably because she did not agree to them, that's why the lawsuit was filed.

    Since it has reached the lawsuit stage, the LL will be required to provide evidence to backup their claim. Your friend could feasibly subpoena the documents that the LL is using to support his claim, but they might not do so until they get to court (since the small claims process doesn't utilize the regular discovery process, it might not be possible to get it sooner).

    That being said, it looks like your friend's only recourse here is to make sure they appear in court for the scheduled hearing in order to see the evidence against her so that she can dispute it.
    "If it ain't in writing, it never happened."
    "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."
    "You can never make the same mistake twice, because the second time you make it, it's not a mistake, but a CHOICE."

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: post move out summons/sued for damages : PENNSYLVANIA

      I am 100% sure that the owner did not first make any demand for payment that the tenant is aware of. The first notice she received is the summons.

      To be clear, until now and including the data contained in the summons, there is no mention in any communication of what damages occurred, when they may have occurred, or why the LL would have any reason to believe she is the person at fault for them....

      Isn't nuisance/abatement not a recourse for such an situation? Isn't there some way to challenge whether the minimum criteria that a plaintiff should present in order to warrant a summons has been reached?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: post move out summons/sued for damages : PENNSYLVANIA

        Originally posted by cdub View Post
        I am 100% sure that the owner did not first make any demand for payment that the tenant is aware of. The first notice she received is the summons.

        To be clear, until now and including the data contained in the summons, there is no mention in any communication of what damages occurred, when they may have occurred, or why the LL would have any reason to believe she is the person at fault for them....

        Isn't nuisance/abatement not a recourse for such an situation? Isn't there some way to challenge whether the minimum criteria that a plaintiff should present in order to warrant a summons has been reached?
        No.

        The place to prove or disprove the validity of a claim is in court, in front of the judge. That's why anyone can file a lawsuit for any reason that they please. Until a judge actually reviews the claims being made and the law that applies to said claim, no one in that courthouse knows whether the claims made by that lawsuit are valid and legally enforceable or not. The court clerk who receives the filing only reviews the documents and forms submitted in order to see whether or not they conform to the legal requirements for filing (i.e., all the right forms and documents). They are not allowed to make a determination whether or not either side of the argument is legally valid or not.
        "If it ain't in writing, it never happened."
        "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."
        "You can never make the same mistake twice, because the second time you make it, it's not a mistake, but a CHOICE."

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: post move out summons/sued for damages : PENNSYLVANIA

          Sad. She does not even get a bill or demand for payment. Just - "show up in court."

          So what recourse does she have if it is clear that the lawsuit has no real basis? Should she be counter suing up front as as means to recover her time and cost?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: post move out summons/sued for damages : PENNSYLVANIA

            She is free to request a copy of the damages claimed. She can dispute the damages with her copy of the move in and move out forms as well as pictures she took of the property at both times.
            Due to a recent promotion, I should now be referred to as Major Obvious.

            I would not be trying to provide information and knowledge if I did not sympathize.

            Some days it is just not worth chewing through the restraints to face life.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by cdub View Post
              . She should not have to appear unless the plaintiff provides some basis for the charge... Thoughts? .
              That would be her worst option. This will allow the LL to get an uncontested default judgment.

              She needs to know what her rights and obligations are as a tenant (and those of the LL) to proceed. Did she provide her forwarding address to the LL? If not the LL is not required to send her written notification of how her deposit was used. If she did, and LL did NOT mail her a breakdown within 30 days of leaving she needs to ask for proof he did in court. If he didn't he automatically loses.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: post move out summons/sued for damages : PENNSYLVANIA

                Originally posted by cdub View Post
                Sad. She does not even get a bill or demand for payment. Just - "show up in court."

                So what recourse does she have if it is clear that the lawsuit has no real basis? Should she be counter suing up front as as means to recover her time and cost?
                She COULD hire an attorney to represent her in the case, and ask that the attorney's fees be paid if it's found that the plaintiff's claim has no merit, but that's about it. There is no recovering her own personal time and costs to pursue or defend a lawsuit. If she has valid damages for a counterclaim, she is welcome to pursue those.
                "If it ain't in writing, it never happened."
                "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."
                "You can never make the same mistake twice, because the second time you make it, it's not a mistake, but a CHOICE."

                Comment

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