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.