By: Steven M. Williams
I manage a market-rate property. I have a tenant who asked me to install a concrete walkway to her door (all of the other lots have gravel walkways) due to a mobility disability. After she provided me the documentation to establish that she had a disability and needed the walkway, I had one installed. After it was installed, I sent her a bill for the installation costs. But, she refuses to pay me. She claims that because she is disabled, I am required to pay for the walkway. Is she correct?
The key to who pays for a modification is not whether there is a disability. In fact, the requirement to allow a modification is dependent upon there being a disability. A tenant is obligated to pay for a needed modification unless the landlord receives public monies for the property (such as Section 8 payments, HUD financing, and tax credits). Since your property is a market-rent property that does not receive public funds, your tenant is obligated to pay you for the walkway. To avoid this kind of problem, I always recommend that landlords enter into a written agreement before a modification is approved, which states that the tenant is obligated to pay for the modification. This will prevent a dispute down the road. It is a good idea to also include language in the agreement stating whether a modification needs to be uninstalled at the end of the tenancy.
I recently won an eviction hearing at my local magisterial district court. After the 10 day appeal period passed, I filed a Request for Order for Possession. After it was served, which was about 14 days after the hearing and judgment, I received in the mail a Writ of Certiorari from the tenant, and my MDJ told me that I cannot go through with the turnover. I always thought that appeals had to be filed within 10 days after the judgment was entered. So, why is this tenant allowed to stay even though she did not appeal within 10 days?
You are correct that an appeal has to be filed within 10 days. But, a Writ of Certiorari is not an appeal from a judgment. It is a challenge to the court proceedings based on some defect in the proceedings. For example, if a notice to quit was not served on a tenant (and is not waived in the lease), the MDJ court has no jurisdiction to hear an eviction case. If the MDJ court hears the case anyway, the proper way to challenge the proceeding would be to file a Writ of Certiorari, not an appeal. The 10 day appeal period does not apply to a Writ of Certiorari. Thus, the filing of a Writ by your tenant 13 days after the judgment appears to be proper. Once a Writ of Certiorari is filed, the Court of Common Pleas is required to review the record from the MDJ court to determine if the proceeding before the MDJ court was proper. In your case, if the Court of Common Pleas determines that the proceedings before the MDJ court were proper, then you will be allowed to re-schedule the turnover.