Category Archive: I’m moving

  1. What are my rights when applying for housing?

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    I was rejected by a landlord. What do I do now?

    Tenants in Philadelphia have a right to universal screening criteria before they apply, a written explanation for any rejections they receive, and reconsideration if they are rejected.

    1. Immediately request reconsideration.
    2. Carefully read the notice of rejection.
      • If the landlord did not send an explanation, you may ask why your application was rejected.
      • Look out for prohibited screening criteria like a policy of never renting to people with an eviction record or a credit score below a certain number.
    3. Within seven days of getting the notice of rejection, give the landlord additional documentation. This may include:
      • Proof that you can afford the rent (pay stubs, a voucher, etc.)
      • Letters of recommendation
      • Explanations or proof of why problems that happened in the past will not come up again
      • If your landlord’s reason for rejecting you was not listed in the screening criteria or is prohibited, highlight the law that prohibits it

    I found a place to rent. What happens now?

    • Before you apply, the landlord must give you a list of written screening criteria explaining what information they use to approve or deny applications. The list must be the same for all applicants.
    • After you apply, the landlord must review your rental application and cannot automatically deny you because of your credit score or eviction record.
    • If you have an eviction record, the landlord cannot deny your application due to the eviction, if:
      • The case was withdrawn, dismissed or you won the case.
      • The case resulted in a judgment that has been satisfied or vacated.
      • The case resulted in a judgment by agreement that is current or has been satisfied or vacated.
      • The case filing or resulting judgment is more than 4 years old.
      • The case was filed March 2020 through September 2021 (COVID-19 Emergency Period), unless the landlord claimed violent or criminal activity.

    The landlord still denied my application. What can I do?

    • If the landlord did not give you written screening criteria or a written denial, the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations may investigate the landlord for fair housing violations.
    • If the landlord violated any part of this ordinance, you may file a lawsuit against the landlord in court for up to $2000 per violation. See our article about how to sue a landlord.
  2. I need a lawyer. What is Right to Counsel?

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    Call 267-443-2500 for the Philly Tenant Hotline.

    Tenants may speak to a live housing counselor at the Tenant Union Representative Network (TURN) for:

    • Free legal information
    • Referral for legal advice and representation

    If no one is available to take your call, we will do our best to return your call within 2-3 business days.  We receive more calls than we can answer at the moment, so please review for legal information, links and templates for your use.

    You can also attend one of TURN’s daily free Know Your Rights webinars.

  3. Good Cause Protections: Can my landlord end my lease?

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    What are Good Cause eviction protections in Philadelphia?

    • For leases less than one year, such as a month-to-month lease, your landlord must give you thirty (30) days written notice stating a Good Cause reason to end your lease.
    • For leases of one year or more, your landlord must give at least (10) days written notice and is not required to state a Good Cause reason to end your lease.
    • For subsidized housing leases, it is likely that you have Good Cause protections. Find your subsidy program to learn more.

    What are some examples of Good Cause?

    • Breach a lease term such as repeatedly late on rent;
    • Cause damage to the unit or refuse access for repairs;
    • Refuse to sign a new written lease with changes including a reasonable rent increase with some exceptions;
    • The owner or owner’s immediate family wants to move into the unit;
    • The owner is renovating the unit with some exceptions.

    What if my landlord ends my lease without Good Cause?

    • Challenge it. If your landlord sends you a Lease Termination Notice or a Notice to Quit without a Good Cause reason and your lease term is currently less than one year, you have the right to file a compliant with the Fair Housing Commission. You must file within fifteen (15) business days of getting the lease termination notice from your landlord.
    • Defend yourself. If your landlord files an eviction in Municipal Court before you are able to file a complaint with the Fair Housing Commission, then you must attend your court hearing and raise Good Cause as a defense.
    • Get legal help. If your landlord files an eviction in Municipal Court and you have low income, you may be eligible for free legal help.
    • Call City Council. While the law doesn’t apply to leases that are a year or longer, you can ask your Councilmember to pass a bill that would extend Good Cause protections to all leases. Look up your city council member.
  4. My landlord evicted me. Where do I go for emergency shelter?

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    Monday-Friday, 7am-5pm

    Apple Tree Family Center 1430 Cherry St (near Cherry and 15th) 215-686-7150, 7151 or 7153

    Roosevelt Darby Center 802 N Broad St (near Broad & Fairmount) 215-685-3700

    After 5pm and Weekends

    For Single Women: House of Passage Kirkbride Center 111 N 48th St (near 48th & Haverford) 267-713-7778

    For Families: The Red Shield 715 N Broad St (near Broad & Fairmount) 215-787-2887

    For Single Men: Station House 2601 N Broad St (near Broad & Lehigh) 215-225-9230

    Additional Services

    Office of Homeless Services Rental Assistance list call 215-686-7177.

    Homeless Outreach Hotline at 215-232-1984

    Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline at 866-723-3014

  5. The judge ruled against me. How do I appeal?

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    Can I appeal my judgment?

    • You can only appeal a Municipal Court judgment if you went to your court hearing, had a trial before a judge and the judge ruled against you.
    • If you went to your Municipal Court hearing and signed a Judgment by Agreement, then you have to follow the agreement.
    • If you missed your Municipal Court hearing, file a Petition to Open instead.

    How do I file an appeal?

    1. File on time.
      • You have 10 calendar days to appeal a judgment for possession (eviction).
      • You have 30 calendar days to appeal a judgment for money only.
    2. File the appeal.
      • In person
      • Online
      • Phone
        • Call 215-686-6652 or 215-686-6653 to get assistance filing online or to schedule an appointment to file the Appeal and IFP in person at City Hall Room 296.
    3. If you are low-income, ask to file In Forma Pauperis (IFP) to file your appeal for free.
    4. Escrow your rent.
      • If you want to stop an eviction during the appeal, you must pay your rent each month to the court. If you are low-income, you may pay 1/3 of your rent at the time you file the appeal and then pay the remaining 2/3 within 20 days.
      • If you are not low-income, you must pay 3 months of rent to the court when you file the appeal or the amount of the Municipal Court judgment for rent.
      • Initial rent payments can be made online when filing the appeal. Ongoing rent payments should be made at City Hall Room 296.
    5. Serve the court papers.
      • You must serve your landlord by personal service.
        • Private Server Have someone over 21 who is not a family member deliver the stamped court papers to the landlord and then fill out an Affidavit of Service. The court can give you the Affidavit. File the completed Affidavit in City Hall Room 296 or online.
        • Sheriff Server If you filed an IFP and it was granted, you can take the stamped court papers to the Sheriff at 100 S Broad St, 5th Fl for service free of charge.
      • If your landlord is out-of-state, you may serve the landlord by certified mail.
        • Send the stamped court papers and IFP to the landlord by certified mail, return receipt requested (approximately $8).

    What should I expect after I file an appeal?

    1. Review the Case Management Order
      • When you file your appeal, the court will give you a case management order.
      • Put the dates of your Settlement Conference and Trial in your calendar.
    2. Complaint.
      • After getting served, your landlord has 20 calendar days to file a Complaint.
    3. Answer to Complaint.
      • After your landlord serves you with the Complaint, you have 20 calendar days to file an Answer in City Hall Room 296. Your Answer should respond to each of your landlord’s claims against you. You must also mail the Answer to the landlord or landlord’s attorney.
    4. Settlement Conference.
      • You will have the opportunity to negotiate a Settlement Agreement with the landlord.
      • Settlement agreements are final and cannot be changed. If you do not agree with the terms of agreement, do not sign anything!
    5. Trial.
      • If you do not reach an agreement during the settlement conference, you will have a Trial in front of a judge. Bring all your documents and witnesses.
  6. How do I apply for subsidized housing?

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    What are the main types of subsidized housing?

    1. HUD Project-Based Housing (rent based on your income)
    2. Low Income Housing Tax Credit Housing (rent based on Philadelphia median income)
    3. Public Housing (rent based on your income)
    4. Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program (rent based on your income)

    How can I apply for HUD Project-Based or Low Income Housing Tax Credit Housing?

    • For a list of housing developments, go to PAHousingSearch and select county and preferred bedroom size. You can also search for project-based or LIHTC developments on the HUD Resource Locator Map.
    • Call each housing development or go in person to find out if the development is accepting applications.
    • Submit an application and follow up at least once per year to update your application and confirm that you are still on the waitlist.

    How can I apply for Public Housing?

    • The waitlist for conventional Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) public housing is closed.
    • The waitlist for PHA public housing for seniors and people with disabilities is open.
    • The waitlists for non-PHA public housing are open.

    You can apply:

    • By Phone: Call PHA at 215-684-4000
    • In Person: Go to PHA Admissions at 2013 Ridge Ave (near Ridge and Master Streets)
    • Online: Review the online application.

    How can I apply for a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher?

    Visit Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) Admissions to see if the waiting list is open.

    If the waiting list is open, it will ask for:

    • your phone number
    • the address where you live (if you have one)
    • a mailing address
    • the combined annual income for the household
    • your Head of Household’s full name, date of birth, and Social Security number or Alien Registration number (if you have one)
  7. How do I get my security deposit back?

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    How do I get my security deposit back?

    You can only request your full security deposit after you move out.

    • Before you move out
      • Send landlord a letter with the date that you are moving. Most leases require at least 30 day notice before leaving. For more information about moving out, visit I’m moving out. What steps should I take?
      • Leave the unit as clean as possible.
      • Take pictures of each room.
      • Do a walkthrough with the landlord, if possible.
    • After you move out
      • Return the keys to the landlord in person or by certified mail.
      • Send landlord a Security Deposit Request Letter (download sample). Keep a copy.
      • Your landlord has 30 days to respond to your request in writing.
        • If you disagree with your landlord’s response, you can sue for the amount of your security deposit.
        • If your landlord does not respond at all, you can sue for two times the amount of your security deposit.

    How do I sue for my security deposit?

    Be careful! Before you sue your landlord, be sure that you do not owe for rent or damages higher than your security deposit.  Here is the process:

    • Go to Municipal Court at 1339 Chestnut Street, 10th floor.
    • Ask to File a Small Claims Complaint. State how much money you are claiming. Include exhibits such as the lease and request letter.
    • Ask to File a Petition to Proceed In Forma Pauperis (IFP). If the IFP is granted, you will not have to pay filing fees.  Download sample.
  8. I want to move out. What steps should I take?

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    How do I tell the landlord that I’m moving at the end of the lease term?

    • Most leases require that you give the landlord advance notice in writing before moving out at the end of the lease term.
      • If your lease is written, review your lease to determine the amount of notice you must give.  It is often 30 or 60 day notice.
      • If your lease is oral, the amount of notice is whatever you and your landlord have agreed upon.  It is best to give at least 30 day notice with oral leases.
      • Send the landlord a letter giving notice that you will be moving.  Be sure to sign and date and keep a copy for your records. If you cannot send a letter, send an email or text message.

    Can I move before the end of the lease term?

    • If you want to move out before the lease expires, you can try to negotiate with your landlord to end the lease early.
    • Your landlord may agree to let you:
      • End the lease without penalty.
      • End the lease, if you pay an early lease termination fee.
      • End the lease, if you find someone to sublet the property.
    • If your landlord agrees to let you move out early, try to get that agreement in writing or confirm the agreement by email.
    • If you need to move out immediately because the property is not safe or because of domestic violence or because of a disability, you may have the legal right to move out early without penalty.  However, you may want to request legal help.

    How should I move out?

    • Clean the rental property and take photos of each room. Before you return the keys, ask your landlord to inspect the property with you.
    • If you cannot return the keys in person, it is best to return them by certified mail.
    • Be sure that all your personal possessions are moved out as well. Otherwise, you risk losing these items permanently, because landlords can dispose of property left behind if they give you notice and you do not respond within ten days.
  9. Where can I get help paying rent or security deposit?

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    For Households Facing Hardship Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

    COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) also known as Phase 4

    NOTE: As of January 7, 2022, Phase 4 Rental Assistance is closed for new applications.

    To check the status of an existing application, visit

    COVID-19 Homelessness Prevention Funds

    For Low-Income Households:

    • Office of Homeless Services (OHS)
      • Not accepting in-person applications at 1430 Cherry Street at this time.
      • Phone: 215-686-7177
      • Apply online
      • Assistance generally ranges from $0 – $1500
    • Philadelphia County Assistance Office
      • Not accepting applications at this time.
      • Phone: 215-560-1976
      • Address: 801 Market Street (near 8th & Market)
      • Mon-Fri 8:30am-4:30pm
      • Very low-income tenants only.
      • Assistance generally ranges from $0 – $400
    • United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey
      • Referral only.
      • Phone: 211
    • Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha
      • Accepting applications by appointment only.
      • Phone: 215-235-6070
      • Address: 600 Diamond St
    • Catholic Social Services (CSS)
      • Accepting applications at all locations by appointment only.
      • Help Line: 267-331-2490
      • CSS Northeast Family Service Center
        • Phone: 215-624-5920
        • Address: 7340 Jackson St (near Cottman & Torresdale)
      • CSS Southwest Family Service Center
        • Phone: 215-724-8550
        • Address: 6214 Grays St (near 62nd & Elmwood)
      • CSS North, Casa del Carmen Family Service Center
        • Phone: 267-331-2490
        • Address: 4400 N Reese St (near 5th & Cayuga)
    • HACE
      • Accepting applications at all locations by appointment only.
      • Frankford Ave
        • Phone: 215-437-7867
        • Address: 4660 Frankford Ave
      • Allegheny Ave
        • Address: 167 W Allegheny Ave
        • Phone: 215-426-8025
    • New Kensington CDC
      • Accepting applications by phone.
      • Phone: 215-427-0350
    • People’s Emergency Center
    • Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network (PIHN)
      • Accepting applications by phone.
      • Phone: 215-247-4663
      • Address: 7047 Germantown Ave (near Mt. Pleasant Ave)

    For Families with Children in Philadelphia Schools

    For Survivors of Domestic Violence

    For Veterans

    For Residents of Northwest Philadelphia

    19118, 19119, 19126, 19138, 19144 & 19150

    • Germantown Avenue Crisis Ministry
      • Accepting applications by phone. Processing may be delayed.
      • Monday through Wednesday, 9AM-2PM
      • 215-843-2340
      • 35 West Chelten Avenue
      • Assistance generally ranges from $300 – $400

    For Families with Children Involved in DHS

    • DHS Prevention Assistance Fund
      • Contact your case manager or social worker.

    For Households with a Person Living with HIV

    • Direct Emergency Financial Assistance (DEFA) grant
    • AIDS Fund: All Walks of Life grant

    For Utility Assistance

    What do I need?

    • Photo ID for all household members age 18 and over.
    • Social Security cards and Birth Certificates for all household members.
    • Proof of Income
      • Pay stubs (for last thirty days)
      • Employment letter (hrs, pay date(s), wages/salary)
      • Award Letter from Social Security office
      • Any other documentation of income
    • Proof of Assets such as bank statements or inheritance award letters
    • Lease Agreement
    • Eviction Notice and/or Court Documents

    What do I need from my landlord?

    • Rental License also called a Housing Inspection License
    • Certificate of Rental Suitability
    • W-9 signed by landlord
    • Letter with current rental balance signed and dated by landlord
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