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RICHARD C. GOODWIN v. LILLIAN RODRIGUEZ (01/27/89)

decided: January 27, 1989.

RICHARD C. GOODWIN, MICHAEL J. LEVITZ, VIRGINIA P. SOBLE, T/D/B/A DUNMORE COMPANY, T/D/B/A BETHLEHEM TOWNHOUSE I AND INTERSTATE REALTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY, ITS AGENT, APPELLANTS,
v.
LILLIAN RODRIGUEZ, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court Entered on September 12, 1986, at Nos. 3180 and 3243 Philadelphia, 1985, Affirming the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Northhampton County, Civil Division, Entered at No. 1984-C-865 on September 9, 1985

COUNSEL

Jordan D. Cunningham, Harrisburg, for appellants.

Jeffrey L. Greenwald, Easton, for appellee.

Papadakos, Justice. Nix, C.j., and Flaherty, J., concur in the result.

Author: Papadakos

[ 520 Pa. Page 298]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This is a landlord-tenant case. The facts are as follows: After inconclusive proceedings before a district justice and an arbitration panel, Appellant-landlord brought an action of ejectment against the Appellee-tenant. Appellants (sometimes collectively referred to hereafter as the "Landlord") sought to evict Appellee on the basis of her forfeiture of a residential lease due to non-payment of rent and failure to comply with provisions in the lease regarding prompt payment of rent. The Landlord's housing project, Bethlehem Township I, which contains the premises that are the subject of the instant appeal, is a housing project heavily subsidized by the federal government pursuant to provisions of the National Housing Act, 12 U.S.C. § 1715- l (d)(3). Appellee-tenant's leasehold was specifically subsidized through a Special Allocation under § 8 of the National Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1437f, as a result of which the Landlord is compelled to calculate the tenant's portion of the rent pursuant to the terms of the Act and the implementing

[ 520 Pa. Page 299]

HUD Regulations (24 C.F.R. § 881) and Handbooks, and to abide by other restrictions and limitations pursuant thereto.

On August 5, 1985, the instant matter, and two other related cases, were listed for non-jury trials before Judge Grifo of the Northampton County Court of Common Pleas. In the other two cases, voluntary stipulations were entered into granting the Landlord conditional judgments for possession and back rent in certain amounts, with payments on the back rent to be liquidated by modest additional monthly payments. However, in the instant matter, the parties were unable to agree on a figure of back rent due. The Landlord argued that $1,476.00 was due, but Appellee contended that only $163.00 was due and owing. Appellee argued that she was entitled to a large reduction in back rent because of a period of unemployment. The matter was therefore tried before Judge Grifo, inter alia, to interpret the relevant federal regulations on these issues.

On September 9, 1985, Judge Grifo issued a Decision and Verdict. The verdict was in terms which were almost identical to the language agreed to by the parties in the stipulations in the other two cases. The court found that the back rent due was $1,261.00 and Appellee was ordered to liquidate this sum by making payments of $25.00 extra monthly on her rent. Judge Grifo also granted judgment to the Landlord for possession, but this was conditioned upon Appellee's non-payment of the extra $25.00 per month due, together with current rent on or before the fifteenth day of every month. "In the event that payment is not received by the 15th day of each month, [Landlord] shall have the right to file an affidavit of default, and file a praecipe for writ of execution for possession and of money judgment." (See, Appendix 1, p. 7 of Appellants' brief.) Judge Grifo found authority to grant this conditional verdict under Pa.R.C.P. 1056(b), one of the rules governing "Actions of Ejectment," which rule provides: "A conditional verdict may be entered in an appropriate case."

Exceptions and cross-exceptions to this verdict were denied and the Landlord appealed to ...


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