How an Occupant of a Property May Claim Legal Title after 10 Years

Real estate investors searching for property acquisitions often locate properties with deceased owners. These properties might make a good investment if the property could be legally purchased from the owner. But if the owner is deceased and left no heirs, or the heirs cannot be found, it may not be possible to purchase the property.


These properties are unfortunately sold at a sheriff tax sale when the taxes go unpaid. The potential acquisition may no longer make sense when the investor must bid at the tax auction against many other investors.


How to Know Whether to File an Ejectment or Eviction

Real estate investors often purchase properties that are occupied at the time of purchase. It some cases the investor purchased the property for the rental income and desires rent-paying tenants to remain. But some investors may wish to have the property vacated due to non-paying occupants or to renovate the property. Investors who choose to vacate a property must select the right legal process. Selecting the wrong process wastes time and money and delays the ultimate plans for the property’s use.

Removing an occupant is accomplished through either an “eviction” or an “ejectment” case. Which type of case is the right one? The answer depends on the legal status of the occupant.



Recent Law May Help Remove Criminal Squatters

As a real estate investor or property owner, it is frustrating when a property is occupied by a squatter. Squatters create many risks to the property and complicate negotiations for sale. The legal process to remove a squatter may take up to a year in Philadelphia. Some savvy squatters may demand an enormous cash payment in exchange for the keys.

However, a recent Philadelphia law went into effect that can result in the removal of a squatter in a fraction of the time.


What is the new law?

Philadelphia Criminal and Defiant Trespasser Law

Philadelphia Code § 10-840, et seq.


What problem does it solve?

Owners who never had a landlord/tenant relationship with a squatter must file a legal action called an “ejectment.” An ejectment is expensive and takes nine months or more because it requires a trial in the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. The legal process to remove a criminal trespasser was at least nine months in length while a tenant could be removed in just 6-8 weeks. 

Under the new law, the property owner can request an emergency hearing before a judge. The court will schedule the hearing within five days. If the owner is successful at the hearing, the court will issue an order authorizing a writ of possession.