Low-income tenants fighting eviction would get free legal help under City Council bill

The city is moving closer to paying the legal bills for low-income tenants facing eviction, much to the displeasure of landlords.

News Story (Pennsylvania)

Michael D’Onofrio
Philadelphia Tribune
May 9, 2019

Tags: Housing: Eviction, Housing: Right to Counsel

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


As part of the proposal, a single tenant earning up to $24,980 a year would be eligible for the free legal counsel, as well as a family of four earning up to $51,500, according to current federal poverty guidelines.

The city could save an estimated $45 million a year in costs related to the eviction process by investing $3.5 million to provide legal counsel to low-income tenants facing evictions, according to a 2018 report from the Philadelphia Bar Association.

The study found that tenants had legal counsel in an average of 7% of cases over a 10-year period, compared to 80% for landlords. Unrepresented tenants were disruptively displaced in 78% of cases, while that rate plummeted to 5% for tenants with legal representation, according to the study.