To reduce unfair evictions tenants need lawyers

In a city with a staggeringly high eviction rate, landlord-tenant court is one of the busiest corners of Philadelphia's municipal judiciary.

News Story (Pennsylvania)

Jake Blumgart
March 16, 2017

Tags: Housing: Eviction

Organizations mentioned/involved: Philadelphia Legal Assistance, Community Legal Services (CLS) of Philadelphia


This is why the lack of legal representation is troubling for many advocates. According to data compiled by Philadelphia Legal Assistance, access to legal aid is only available to approximately 1.5 percent of renters. The remaining 6.7 percent are represented by for-profit attorneys doing pro bono work (or occasionally representing tenants who can afford it). By comparison, a lawyer represents 81 percent of landlords.

But most tenants are unprepared to effectively argue their own case in court, especially against a professional lawyer. Most tenants do not know that the law is on their side if a landlord lacks a rental license or is out of compliance with lead paint regulations. Without all the necessary paperwork in order, property owners are prohibited from asking for rent when they are out of compliance with those laws.