Pennsylvania is one of the only states in the country that still enforces Confession of Judgment clauses in a commercial lease. If you are entering into a commercial lease in Pennsylvania, it is likely that the lease will contain two types of Confession of Judgment clauses – one for rent and one for possession. A Confession of Judgment clause for rent states that upon signing the lease, the tenant has “confessed judgment” against him or herself. Therefore, simplistically explained, if the tenant is in default on rent, the landlord only needs to unilaterally go into court and present evidence of the default and the tenant, because he/she has already “confessed judgment”, does not have any rights to defend the action (although there are some additional actions the tenant can take, I will not be discussing them in this article). Clearly this is a powerful tool for a commercial landlord in Pennsylvania and a terrible clause for a tenant. A Confession of Judgment clause for possession states that upon signing the lease, the tenant has confessed judgment against him or herself for eviction purposes. Therefore, if the tenant is in default, one of the remedies, after all proper notices in the lease have been provided, is for the landlord to regain possession by unilaterally going to court to show the default and proper notice and presenting the signed confession of judgment. The judge can then order that the landlord has the right to re-possess the premises. As can be discerned, Confession of Judgment clauses are powerful tools for a landlord that can be extremely detrimental to a tenant. This post does not create an attorney-client privilege and is not intended to provide legal advice for any particular situation.
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