Is Tenants’ Right to Counsel On Its Way to Becoming Standard Practice?

Eviction is a deeply disruptive and destructive event in a tenant’s life that, in the words of Matt Desmond, director of Princeton University's Eviction Lab, “is not just a condition of poverty, it is a cause of it.” Research shows that most of the time in housing court landlords have lawyers but tenants do not. The good news is that there is a growing national movement to provide all renters facing eviction the legal help they need to ensure a fair outcome in eviction proceedings. So far, five cities have passed such bills, and more are considering it.

News Story (NATIONAL, Ohio, Pennsylvania)

Jared Brey
December 10, 2019
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Tags: Civil Right to Counsel, Housing: Eviction, Housing: Landlord-Tenant

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, Philadelphia Bar Association, Community Legal Services (CLS) of Philadelphia, National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel (NCCRC), Eviction Lab


As housing costs rise and incomes stay stagnant, the percentage of income that families must  spend in order to keep a roof over their heads is growing far beyond what is manageable and millions are threatened with eviction each year. Pair that reality with the fact that in America’s housing courts most landlords have lawyers and most tenants do not, and what you get is the eviction crisis documented by Princeton University’s Eviction Lab. Research shows that when tenants have the legal help they need, eviction can often be avoided and solutions that are fair to both parties are much more likely. This article looks at the Housing Right to Counsel movement, why it’s happening, and the research showing that everyone benefits when our civil justice system functions as it should.