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PRINTER'S NO. 2050
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
1530
Session of
2021
INTRODUCED BY FIEDLER, KRAJEWSKI, SANCHEZ, ISAACSON, HOHENSTEIN,
RABB, FRANKEL, A. DAVIS, HARRIS, KENYATTA, GALLOWAY, GUZMAN,
MADDEN, OTTEN, BULLOCK, HILL-EVANS, CEPHAS, D. WILLIAMS, LEE,
PISCIOTTANO, INNAMORATO, DALEY, KINSEY, SOLOMON, KINKEAD,
SCHWEYER, DEASY, N. NELSON, PARKER, HOWARD AND KIM,
AUGUST 31, 2021
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY, AUGUST 31, 2021
AN ACT
Amending Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure) of the
Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in dockets, indices and
other records, providing for expungement of eviction
information, including eviction record sealing.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Chapter 43 of Title 42 of the Pennsylvania
Consolidated Statutes is amended by adding a subchapter to read:
SUBCHAPTER C
EXPUNGEMENT OF EVICTION INFORMATION
Sec.
4331. Definitions.
4332. Mandatory sealing and expungement.
4333. Prohibition on dissemination of information in sealed
court file.
§ 4331. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this subchapter
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shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Court." The court of common pleas or magisterial district
court in the jurisdiction in which an eviction case is filed.
"Court file." The court file created when an eviction case
is filed with the court, any documents filed in the eviction
case and any information or record of activity associated with
the eviction case.
"Dissemination" or "disseminate." To publish, produce, print
manufacture, copy, distribute, sell, lease, exhibit, broadcast,
display, transmit or otherwise share information in any format
which makes the information accessible to others.
"Eviction case." An action brought under Article V of the
act of April 6, 1951 (P.L.69, No.20), known as The Landlord and
Tenant Act of 1951.
"Expungement." The removal of evidence of a court file's
existence from publicly accessible records.
"For-cause eviction." An eviction case in which the court
finds that a tenant or occupant materially breached a lease.
"Foreclosure-related eviction." An eviction case brought
against a tenant or occupant due to the foreclosure of the real
property.
" Not-for-cause eviction." An eviction case in which the
court does not find that a tenant or an occupant materially
breached a lease.
"Seal" or "sealing." Barring access to a court file to
anyone other than a person listed under section 4332(e)
(relating to mandatory sealing and expungement).
§ 4332. Mandatory sealing and expungement.
(a) General rule.--Upon the filing of an eviction case, the
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clerk of the court shall do all of the following:
(1) Immediately seal the court file.
(2) No less than seven days after issuance of a summons,
mail notice of the filing of the eviction case in a sealed
envelope by first class mail. The mailing shall be addressed
to the named defendant and to all other residents of the
premises and shall be mailed to the full address of the
premises as described in the filing. The notice shall be
substantially in the following form:
THIS NOTICE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. DEFENDANTS HAVE THE
RIGHT TO BE SERVED WITH COURT PAPERS BEFORE GOING TO
COURT.
To (insert name of all named defendants) and All Other
Residents:
(Insert name of all plaintiffs) has filed an eviction
case against (insert name of all defendants) for
possession of (insert full address of premises). The
eviction case number is (insert full case number). A
hearing may be on (insert hearing date and time on
summons) in courtroom (insert courtroom on summons) if
the defendants are served court papers. The eviction case
has been sealed and is not public. It can only be viewed
by:
(1) a party to the action, including a party's
attorney;
(2) an occupant of the premises who provides the
clerk of the court with the names of one of the
parties or the case number and shows documentation of
residency; or
(3) a person who has, upon showing of good cause,
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obtained a court order to access a sealed court file.
If the court enters a judgment for possession in
favor of the plaintiff, the court file may be
unsealed unless the court decides it should remain
sealed. If you qualify to view the court file, you
may wish to go to the court house at (insert court
address). You may also wish to speak with an
attorney. In (insert name of county) County you may
contact (insert name and contact information of local
bar association, if any; insert name and contact
information of local civil legal aid providers, if
any; insert name and contact information of any local
legal clinics, if any; and any other local attorney
referral resources) to seek the help of an attorney.
(b) Unsealing court file.-- Except as provided under this
subsection, the clerk of the court shall unseal a court file no
sooner than 30 days after the court enters an eviction order.
The court file shall remain under seal in the following cases:
(1) a foreclosure-related eviction;
(2) a not-for-cause eviction;
(3) t he parties to the eviction agree that the court
file should remain sealed;
(4) the plaintiff's case is sufficiently without basis
in fact or law, which may include lack of jurisdiction over
the case;
(5) the case is withdrawn;
(6) the judgment for the case has been entered for the
defendant;
(7) the judgment in the case is vacated or satisfied; or
(8) expungement is clearly in the interests of justice
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and those interests are not outweighed by the public's
interest in knowing about the record.
(c) Sealing court file.-- All court files that are unsealed
shall be sealed by the clerk of the court in the following
situations:
(1) No later than 5 years after the eviction case was
filed.
(2) Upon motion and a showing to the court that one of
the exceptions under subsection (b) applies. This p aragraph
applies to an eviction action retroactively.
(3) When a judgment is vacated or satisfied.
(d) Satisfaction of judgment.--If a tenant pays a money
judgment in full or leaves the property after a judgment for
possession has been entered but before the tenant is served with
a writ of possession, the landlord shall notify the court within
15 days and the judgment shall be marked satisfied.
(e) Access to sealed court file.-- The clerk of the court may
not provide access to or disseminate a sealed court file to
anyone other than the following persons:
(1) A party to the eviction case, including a party's
attorney.
(2) A person who provides the clerk of the court with
the names of at least one plaintiff and one defendant and the
address of the premises, including the unit number, if any.
(3) A n occupant of the premises who provides the clerk
of the court with the names of one of the parties or the case
number and shows documentation of residency.
(4) A person who has, upon a showing of good cause,
obtained a court order to access a sealed court file.
(5) A nonprofit entity or educational institution
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seeking court files exclusively for research purposes that
are in no way connected to commercial or business activities.
In addition to the prohibitions under section 4333 (relating
to prohibition on dissemination of information in sealed
court file), court files requested for research purposes
shall not be furnished by the nonprofit entity or educational
institution to any outside organizations and the nonprofit
entity or educational institution may not publish any
individual tenant names in public reports or other
communications.
(f) Eviction order against defendant.-- If an eviction order
is entered against a defendant, the court shall do each of the
following:
(1) D etermine whether the eviction case qualifies to
remain sealed under subsection (b).
(2) I dentify whether the eviction case is a for-cause
eviction or a not-for-cause eviction.
(g) Applicability.-- Except as provided under subsection (c),
this section applies to eviction actions filed on or after the
effective date of this subsection.
§ 4333. Prohibition on dissemination of information in sealed
court file.
(a) General rule.--No person shall disseminate any
information contained in a sealed court file if the person knows
or has reason to believe that the information is derived from a
sealed court file. This subsection does not apply to the tenant
or occupant whose court file was sealed.
(b) Furnishing information in sealed court file.--A person
who regularly and in the ordinary course of business furnishes
information to a consumer reporting agency, including a tenant
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screening service, and has furnished information that the person
knows, or reasonably should know, is contained in a sealed court
file shall promptly notify the consumer reporting agency of that
determination and shall cease furnishing information contained
in the sealed court file.
(c) Disclosure prohibited.--A consumer reporting agency,
including a tenant screening service, may not disclose the
existence of a sealed eviction case in a report pertaining to
the person for whom dissemination has been barred or use the
eviction case as a factor to determine any score or
recommendation to be included in a tenant screening report
pertaining to the person for whom dissemination has been barred.
(d) Violation.--A violation of subsection (b) or (c)
constitutes an unlawful practice under the act of December 17,
1968 (P.L.1224, No.387), known as the Unfair Trade Practices and
Consumer Protection Law .
(e) Private cause of action.--A tenant or occupant may bring
a private cause of action seeking compliance with this section.
(f) Recovery.--If a person violates this section, the tenant
or occupant has the right to recover an amount equal to and not
more than two months' rent or twice the damages sustained,
whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney fees.
(g) Construction.--Nothing in this section shall prohibit
the dissemination of information regarding a money judgment for
the sole purpose of collection.
(h) Applicability.--This section applies to an eviction case
filed on or after the effective date of this subsection.
Section 2. This act shall take effect in 60 days.
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