Appealing the Magisterial District Judge Judgment
How Do I Appeal a Judgment for Possession?
You have only 10 days from the date of the judgment to file an appeal. Look for the “Date of Judgment” on the Notice of Judgment. Do not wait until the last day to file your appeal. If the court will not let you file the appeal for free, you will have to pay a filing fee of at least $63 to file the appeal.
To appeal, follow these steps:
- Gather up the following: the Notice of Judgment issued by the Magisterial District Judge and the escrow money. The escrow money is the amount of rent in arrears listed on the Notice of Judgment of the Magisterial District Judge or three months rent, whichever is less. However, if you believe you are indigent, or of extremely limited financial means, you may be able to file your appeal and remain in your property while the appeal is going on by placing only the monthly rent into escrow. To find out if you qualify, you must first go to the Prothonotary’s Office (aka Department of Court Records) and request a “Notice of Appeal,” an “In Forma Pauperis” form, and the “Supplemental Instructions for Obtaining a Stay of Eviction.” Read these last instructions very carefully, as they will tell you exactly how you file your appeal.
- If you are low income at the time of your appeal, you will also need to file an affidavit in which you state the exact amount of monthly rent that you are required to pay and whether you have paid the rent for the month in which you filed your appeal. If you have paid the rent for that month, you must simply pay your regular monthly rent to the Prothonotary/DCR as it falls due. If you have not paid the rent at the time you file, you will have to pay 1/3 of your monthly rent at the time you file your appeal, the remainder within 20 days, and then 10 days later you begin to pay full monthly rent and continue to do so every 30 days from the date of your filing (for example, if your rent is $600, you appeal on May 9th and pay $200, you pay $400 on May 29th, and you pay $600 on June 8th).
- In Allegheny County, the Department of Court Records, Civil Division (formerly the Prothonotary’s Office) is located on the first floor of the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh. While the office is opened from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, it is recommended that you file your appeal at either 8:30 a.m. or at 12:30 p.m., on a day when the courts are open, so that you can see a judge as outlined in step four. The courts are not open on Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays. In counties other than Allegheny, contact the Prothonotary’s Office/DCR for specific instructions.
- In Allegheny County, you will be directed to take the completed “In Forma Pauperis” form to a judge. The form asks the judge to excuse you, because of your low income, from paying the filing fee. A judge is usually available to sign this form at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. In counties other than Allegheny, other procedures may be in place regarding how this paperwork is brought to the attention of a judge.
- If you are required to pay the clerk the escrow money, ask for a receipt, and keep it in a safe place. The clerk will give you 3 envelopes for you to address. You must address one to the Magisterial District Judge, one to the landlord, and one to yourself. Make sure you address them correctly. Give the envelopes back to the clerk so that the clerk can mail a copy of your appeal to the Magisterial District Judge and to the landlord.
- The clerk will give you a copy of your appeal. Keep it in a safe place. The clerk will give you instructions for paying your rent to the Prothonotary/DCR every month. Read those instructions carefully. You must pay your monthly rent to the Prothonotary’s Office/DCR every 30 days until the case is over. If you are late with even one payment, the landlord can have your evicted.
- As soon as you file the appeal, line up an attorney. Your landlord must file a Complaint against you in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas within 20 days after receiving a copy of your appeal. You must respond to the Complaint within 20 days after you receive it.
How Do I Appeal A Money Judgment
If agree with the Magisterial District Judge Judgment about possession, but dispute the money judgment, you must file your appeal within 30 days from the date of the judgment. Follow all of the steps stated above. However, you will not need to pay any escrow money or any rent money to the Prothonotary/DCR. If your landlord files a Complaint against you, you must file a response within 20 days. Line up an attorney right away.
Please note: If the Magisterial District Judge ruled that you can remain in possession, but you want to appeal the money judgment, you should wait 10 days before filing your appeal. If you file an appeal right away, you landlord may get angry and file an appeal asking for possession. After 10 days, your landlord cannot appeal the Magisterial District Judge Judgment regarding possession.
The Landlord Has Filed An Appeal
The Landlord has filed an appeal and served me with a Complaint. What should I do? If you do nothing, you will lose automatically. You only have 20 days to respond, and your attorney will need time to prepare your response. So, seek legal help right away!