What is the legal eviction process?
To lock you out legally, your landlord must:
- File a complaint against you in court
- Get a judgment against you in court
- File the writ of possession and alias writ of possession
- Schedule a lockout date
- A sheriff or landlord-tenant officer will complete the lockout and give you a blue eviction notice or post it on the property.
After a judgment in court, you have at least 21 days before you can be legally evicted.
What is an illegal lockout?
It is illegal for a landlord to evict you by:
- changing the locks without a sheriff or a landlord-tenant officer
- using force
- turning off your utilities
- removing your possessions
- removing doors or windows from the house
- any other means except a sheriff or landlord-tenant officer
What do I do if I have been illegally locked out?
- Confirm that the lockout was illegal. Call Municipal Court at 215-686-7334 between 9AM and 4:30PM to see if your landlord followed the legal eviction process. You can also tell if your landlord followed the legal eviction process by searching here.
- If the lockout was illegal, call the police by dialing 911. Show the officer your lease, rent receipts, utility bills or photo ID to prove residency.
- If the police officer does not assist you, call 911 again and ask for a supervisor to come to the scene. You can reference the name of the law—Prohibition Against Self-Help Eviction Practices Philadelphia Code 9-1600.
For the law against illegal lockouts, click here.
For Philadelphia Police Directive 3.17 regarding illegal lockouts, click here.