Explanatory Note: On April 15, 2008, at the recommendation of the Minor Court Rules Committee ("Committee"), the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania approved amendments to Pa.R.C.P.M.D.J. No. 1008 (effective May 15, 2008). The recommendation was based on federal district court lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Pa.R.C.P.M.D.J. No. 1008B as applied to indigent tenants. The Committee noted in its Report that federal district courts had held that indigent residential tenants' rights were being violated by Rule 1008B's requirement that tenants post three times the monthly rent or the rent determined to be in arrears so that they could remain in the home while appealing a magisterial district judge's award of possession to the landlord.
The Committee cited in its Report the federal district court case Wendolyn Pleasant and Tenants' Action Group v. Joseph H. Evers, 1998 WL 205431 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 24, 1998), C.A.NO. 97-4124 (Ludwig, J.) and noted: "In Evers, Community Legal Services challenged Philadelphia Municipal Court's Rule of Procedure 124, which required a deposit to be paid in almost the same fashion as Pa.R.C.P.M.D.J. No 1008B. During the early phases of the protracted litigation, a temporary restraining order was entered enjoining the use of the Municipal Court rule. Ultimately, Evers led Municipal Court to change its practices and create a standing procedure for indigent residential tenants' appeals. That procedure is still used today."
The procedure recommended by the Committee and approved by the Supreme Court in its April 15, 2008 order is essentially the Evers procedure which, as the Committee noted, has been in effect in Philadelphia County since 1998; however, that procedure was never adopted as an official court rule. Independently of the Committee's effort to address the constitutionality of Pa.R.C.P.M.D.J. No. 1008 as applied to indigent residential tenants in all counties other than Philadelphia, the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County was in the process of incorporating the Evers requirements in comprehensive local rules addressing appeals from the Philadelphia Municipal Court. Philadelphia Civil Rules *1001 and *1008 represent the culmination of that effort and, in order to foster statewide uniformity, incorporate most, if not all, of the provisions found in Pa.R.C.P.M.D.J. No. 1001 to 1008.
The Supplemental Instructions include both Instructions and Income Limits. The Income Limits are stated in monthly amounts and are based upon the most recent poverty income guidelines issued by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services.
Explanatory Note: Although the Office of Judicial Records must provide notice of the termination of the super-sedeas for non-payment of the monthly rental payments as provided in this subsection, in order to allow the notice to be delivered to the tenant before the eviction can proceed, the landlord must wait ten (10) days before obtaining a writ of possession from the Municipal Court after termination of the supersedeas by the Office of Judicial Records.
Explanatory Note: Pa.R.C.P.M.D.J. No. 1008 is the source of this local rule. The content of the Note which appears immediately after Pa.R.C.P.M.D.J. No. 1008 explaining the various provisions has been edited as appropriate and is adopted as a Note to this local rule.
Note:Subdivision (a) provides for an automatic supersedeas in appeals from civil actions upon receipt by the Municipal Court of a copy of the Notice of Appeal filed with the Office of Judicial Records of the Court of Common Pleas. Subdivisions (b) and (c), however, do require the deposit of money or approved bond as a condition for supersedeas where the appeal is from a judgment for the possession of real property. Subdivision (d) provides for appeals by indigent residential tenants who are unable to meet the bond requirements of subdivision (b) or (c).
The request for termination of the supersedeas, upon the praecipe filed with the Office of Judicial Records, may simply state: "Please terminate the supersedeas in the within action for failure of the appellant to pay monthly rental as required by Philadelphia Civil Rule *1008 when it became due" and will be signed by appellee. The Office of Judicial Records will then note upon the praecipe: "Upon confirmation of failure of the appellant to deposit the monthly rent when it became due, the supersedeas is terminated," and the Office of Judicial Records will sign and date and time stamp the praecipe. A copy of the praecipe may thereupon be filed with the Municipal Court which rendered the judgment, and a request for issuance of an order for possession pursuant to Phila.M.C.R.Civ.P. No. 126 may be made.
The deposit of rent required is intended to apply in all cases, irrespective of the reasons which caused the filing of the complaint before the Municipal Court in the first instance.
Disposition of the monthly rental deposits will be made by the Court of Common Pleas following its de novo hearing of the matter on appeal.
The money judgment portion of a landlord and tenant judgment would be governed by subdivision (a). Adopted by the Board of Judges of the Court of Common Pleas on May 15, 2008. Promulgated by Order dated May 20, 2008. Effective thirty (30) days after publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
Phil. Cnty. Pa. *1008