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LANCASTER HOUSING AUTHORITY v. GARDNER (03/08/68)

decided: March 8, 1968.

LANCASTER HOUSING AUTHORITY
v.
GARDNER, APPELLANT



Original opinion January 16, 1968

Opinion by Montgomery, J., Supplementing Per Curiam Order Filed.

Author: Montgomery

[ 211 Pa. Super. Page 504]

Opinion by Montgomery, J., Supplementing Per Curiam Order Filed January 16, 1968:

This appeal was argued before us at our December Session (1967) and disposed of by a per curiam order of affirmance filed January 16, 1968, on the authority of Pittsburgh Housing Authority v. Turner, 201 Pa. Superior Ct. 62, 191 A.2d 869 (1963). Judge Ervin, then President Judge, and Judge Wright, now President

[ 211 Pa. Super. Page 505]

Judge, took no part in the consideration or decision of the case. Subsequently, appellant June Gardner presented to us a petition for reargument which will be refused. However, we deem it necessary to elaborate on the reason given for our original decision.

This appeal comes to us from an order of the Common Pleas Court of Lancaster County refusing to grant a rule to show cause why a confessed judgment in ejectment should not be opened for the purpose of permitting appellant to enter a defense thereto, or in the alternative, why the judgment should not be stricken. No answer was filed to the petition. No opinion has been filed by the lower court in support of its order of refusal, but it is appellee's contention that the petition is insufficient to justify the issuance of a rule. It argues that the petition fails to allege any facts which indicate a defense to the judgment or a sufficient reason for it being stricken.

The judgment was entered pursuant to a warrant contained in a lease wherein the appellee was the lessor and the appellant the lessee; and which covered premise known as Unit 174-2 in a low rent housing project at 536 South Ann Street in the City of Lancaster. The lease was written on a month-to-month basis with a provision for termination by either party on a prior thirty-day notice of intention to terminate. The affidavit of default attached to the confession of judgment was made by Howard R. Riegert, the Executive Director of Lancaster Housing Authority, appellee, and stated that notice had been given to appellant-tenant on June 19, 1967 to quit and deliver up possession of the premises covered by the lease by July 31, 1967, and that said tenant had refused to remove therefrom on or after that date. No reason for terminating the lease is stated in the affidavit.

Appellant's petition to open or strike the judgment revealed the foregoing facts, and in addition alleged

[ 211 Pa. Super. Page 506]

    that she was advised she might have a hearing before the Authority, but was not advised she might have legal counsel present at said hearing; that no hearing was held, except that on or about July 13, 1967 she met with Mr. Riegert, the Executive Director previously named, and was informed by him that he had examined her premises and found them to be "filthy", which she denied to him, and in her petition. She alleged further that there are no standards for housekeeping set up by the Authority nor any regulations which permit the eviction of tenants on the ground of poor housekeeping, and therefore the said action of the Authority in attempting to evict her was capricious, arbitrary, illegal and in violation of the regulations of the Authority, the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the United States of America, and in violation of her rights under both the Constitution of Pennsylvania and the Constitution of the United States.

Our original order of affirmance was predicated on our holding in the Turner case that tenants in public housing projects have no vested right in their tenancy and although they cannot be compelled to comply with unconstitutional requirements as a condition of continued occupancy, they are subject to the same laws that govern landlords and tenants generally. We arrived at this conclusion for the reason that the Pennsylvania Housing Authority Law, Act of May 28, 1937, P. L. 955, 35 P.S. ยง 1541 et seq., gives such authorities broad powers to promote the declared policy of that law, which was to promote the health and welfare of the inhabitants thereof; and in the ...


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