Eviction for Certain Illegal Activity

Typically, a lease will provide that the tenant will use the leased premises only for legal purposes. What if you happen to have a really bad tenant and a really poorly drafted lease? Don’t give up hope. Here are three possible approaches direct from the Landlord Tenant Act.

Generally. Even if a prohibition on illegal conduct is not specified in the lease, the Landlord Tenant Act fills this gap in the case of residential leases, by stating that “(t)he tenant shall comply with all obligations imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of all municipal, county and the Commonwealth codes, regulations, ordinances and statutes.”

Drug Use. Specifically in the residential context, the Act states that specified instances of drug use, sales, etc. “shall be a breach of the condition of the lease and shall be grounds for removal”. Generally, the concept is that one conviction of sale, manufacture or distribution, two convictions for possession, and any seizure of illegal drugs on the premises is sufficient to be a breach of the lease and grounds for removal.

Vandalism. The Landlord Tenant Act states that a “(t)enant . . . shall . . . (n)ot permit any person on the premises with his permission to willfully or wantonly destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove any part of the structure or the dwelling unit . . . nor himself do any such thing.” Clearly, cases such as vandalism, removal of fixtures and punching holes in walls, constitute “willful” or “wanton” conduct that would trigger the application of this statute.

No tenant is above the law, and as a landlord you don’t need to tolerate crime.

— Rod Fluck

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