Can I kick out my tenant because I need my house back? [Real NEastate]

NEast Philly is on vacation this week and is posting on a limited basis. This installment of Real NEastate was originally published in June 2012.

Q: I’ve rented out my house in Tacony, but I need to move back because I’m getting divorced. Can I evict my tenants? It’s only six months into their lease. They are very nice and pay their rent on time, but I don’t want to have to find a place and pay rent when I already have a house. What are my options?

A: A lease between a landlord and a tenant is a legal contract. Neither a tenant nor a landlord may change or break a lease while it is in effect unless the other person agrees.

Like most other contracts, a lease can be oral or in writing. If you have a written lease, you will probably find a clause in your lease that spells out how much notice a tenant is required to give a landlord in the case of early termination, but usually there is no clause in a lease that a landlord wants to end a lease early.

Since almost all the important terms of the rental are in the lease, it is important to read it carefully if you have one. Besides the terms spelled out in your lease, tenants have rights. These rights are outlined in the Landlord Tenant Act of 1951. Again, no provisions for a landlord that wants to move back.

If you have had no problems with your tenants, you can’t very well evict them just because your situation has changed. Your only two options are to ask the tenants if they’ll move before their lease is up, or find a new place to live while they finish out their lease.

 Stacey McCarthy is a real estate agent with the McCarthy Group of Keller Williams. Her Real NEastate column appears every Wednesday on See others hereRead other NEast Philly columns here.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal