The Council of the City of Philadelphia hereby finds:
(1) Each year, thousands of tenants in the City of Philadelphia are subjected to actual or threatened use of self-help eviction practices.
(2) Many tenants victimized by self-help eviction are low and very low income persons and are particularly vulnerable to being deprived of their rights to judicial process.
(3) Self-help evictions exacerbate the incidence of homelessness among the City's low and very low income population.
(4) Existing remedies do not afford adequate protection against unlawful eviction.
(5) Self-help eviction practices include the use of violence and the infliction of physical harm upon tenants in efforts to force tenants to vacate their rental dwellings without recourse to judicial process.
(6) Typical examples of self-help practices include lock-outs without court authorization, intentional interference with vital utilities, such as heat, electricity, water and gas, and the seizure of tenants' personal property.
(7) Self-help evictions deprive tenants of their opportunity to assert defenses, such as the existence of defective conditions within the leased premises, in a judicial proceeding and thereby impacts adversely upon the City's efforts to enforce the Housing and other Chapters of The Philadelphia Code.
(8) Termination of utilities and blockage of means of ingress and egress from dwelling units create conditions that are themselves violations of The Philadelphia Code.
(9) The existing remedy to prevent self-help eviction is limited to a private civil action to obtain injunctive relief in the Court of Common Pleas.
(10) Court costs, attorney fees and, most significantly, the delays inherent in private civil actions, frequently deter tenants from taking action against self-help eviction processes.
(11) The provisions of this Chapter are necessary to discourage unlawful, self-help evictions by providing substantial penalties for said offenses.