With the expiration dates of both national and local eviction moratoriums approaching, it is essential that tenants facing eviction are guaranteed due process.
In Philadelphia, tenants continue to be evicted, sometimes without warning. The city’s Landlord Tenant Officer, Marisa Shuter, and her deputies– who carry out eviction proceedings—are not required to record the details of how or when they deliver final eviction notices, also known as writs of possession.
This lack of documentation means that no one can prove whether on not a final notice was delivered, thus disempowering tenants who were not properly notified of their eviction date.
According to state and federal law, as well as the Philadelphia Municipal Court, “a document signed by the server that includes the information about the location, date, time, and manner of service” is required for an eviction to proceed. This information ensures due process for the tenant facing eviction.
However, Landlord Tenant Officer Marisa Shuter says that the time and method of service (final notice) are not documented by her deputies because the form distributed by the Philadelphia Municipal Court does not require that information.
“No tenant that we’ve seen in the past seven years has come in clutching a writ of possession”Rachel Garland, Community Legal Services
Thorough documentation of final notice service is necessary to guarantee tenants due process.
“Philadelphia Municipal Court must ensure that the private firm that executes evictions meets all obligations of due process. Using a GPS to have a location and time stamp of the moment of service would be ideal — but writing down the details required by law would be a start.”Philadelphia Inquirer’s Editorial Board
Ryan Briggs, a reporter for WHYY, reported that Marisa Shuter, a court-appointed “Landlord and Tenant Officer” is married to Municipal Court Judge David C. Shuter, who presides over certain eviction cases. The Landlord Watchlist Project, along with other tenant advocates, is staunchly against courtroom nepotism, as it leads to more evictions without a proper due process.
Shuter runs the Landlord and Tenant office as “glorified bill collectors operating under official marque.” All of her “deputy” officers are licenses to carry firearms. The Landlord and Tenant Officer does not receive compensation from the City, State, or First Judicial District. The Office is operated from Marisa Shuter’s private office on South Broad Street, further confusing soon-to-be-evicted tenants.