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Do I Have To Leave My House After The Sheriff' Sale? The Ejectment And Eviction Process

In Pennsylvania, in order to foreclose on your home, a lender must file a complaint in mortgage foreclosure in court and obtain a judgment against the borrower and then schedule the property for a sheriff's sale. At the Sheriff's Sale, the property will mostly likely be sold to either a third party buyer or go back to the foreclosing mortgage company.

After the Sheriff's Sale, you have the right to challenge the sale under very limited circumstances. If you do challenge the sale, you must file a Motion to Set Aside the sale before the Deed is transferred by the Sheriff to the buyer or the mortgage company. By law, the Deed cannot be transferred for 21 days. During this time, you still technically own your home.

After the Deed is transferred, you no longer have any ownership rights to the home, however, if you still reside in the house, as many people do, the new owner must follow the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure and obtain a Court Order in order to displace you from your home. This process if called an Ejectment action which is similar to but distinguishable from an Eviction action, which is applicable only in a Landlord – Tenant situation where you rented the property but were not the former owner of the property.

In an Ejectment action, the new owner must first be assigned the Deed. The new owner must then file a Complaint in the Court of Common Pleas in the county where the house is located. Just like in the foreclosure action, the Complaint must be personally served on you by the Sheriff. If the Sheriff is unable to personally serve you, the new owner can Petition the Court to get a Court Order allowing them to serve you by mail or other means. After you have been served, you have 20 days to file a written response to the Complaint. The written response must conform to the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure. If you do not file a written response within the 20 day period, the new owner will send you a letter notifying you that you have 10 days to file a written response. Be careful, the 10 days runs from the date on the letter. Make sure you save the envelope to also show when the letter was sent. If the 10th day falls on a weekend or holiday, you get the day after that to file your written response.

If you do not file a written response to the Complaint, the new owner will file a Default Judgment with the Court and you will then receive notice from the Sheriff that you must leave the house by a certain date at which time the Sheriff will come to your house with a locksmith and moving truck. If you already left the house and took your belongings, the locks will be changed. If you left items in the house, the locks will be changed and any items which you may have left in the house will be placed in storage.

If you do file a written response to the Complaint, the new owner will now be forced to litigate the case with you. Depending upon what county you are in and which Judge has been assigned to your case, the entire litigation process could take between 6 to 9 months or longer. During this time, you can still live in the house. Although, it is very difficult for the former homeowner to win an Ejectment action, you have the right to challenge the new owner's legal pleadings, ownership of the Deed, among other possible challenges.

If you lose the case and do not appeal it to the appropriate Court of Appeals, you will then be sent the aforementioned letter from the Sheriff giving you time to vacate the house with all of your belongings.

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Phone: (610) 991-3321 | Local Phone: (610) 293-9399.
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