People will sign anything: how legal odds are stacked against the evicted

Evicted tenants in the US often struggle to get an attorney, leaving them at a disadvantage against lawyered-up landlords.

News Story (NATIONAL)

Matt Krupnick
January 24, 2018

Tags: Civil Right to Counsel, Housing: Eviction

Organizations mentioned/involved: National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel (NCCRC), Community Legal Services (CLS) of Philadelphia


Just 1% of New York City housing court defendants were represented by an attorney in 2013, compared to 95% of landlords, according to a recent city report. It is a situation that is echoed nationwide. But recently New York, which handles at least 150,000 eviction cases annually, became the first city in the United States to guarantee evicted tenants the use of an attorney.


“In housing court, it makes a tremendous difference,” said John Pollock, a Baltimore attorney who leads the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel. “When you introduce a defendant’s attorney to the process, it changes the expectations.”