Check out our 3-minute video celebrating the victories and leaders of the tenant right to counsel movement!
key eviction right to counsel resources
- Tenant right to counsel laws: we've put together a comprehensive resource examining all the details of the tenant right to counsel laws that have passed at the city/state level.
- Landlord/tenant representation statistics: For many years, it was regularly reported that tenants were represented 10% of the time, compared to 90% of landlords. However, our most recent data from several dozen jurisdictions actually puts the tenant representation figure at a mere 3% and the landlord figure at 81%.
- Federal funding for tenant right to counsel: We have an entire page set up about eviction right to counsel federal funding. It includes a table explaining how all the funding sources work, a webinar featuring jurisdictions discussing how they accessed the funding, and a comprehensive list of jurisdictions that have made federal funding commitments to eviction right to counsel or tenant representation expansion.
- Cost/benefit reports: Stout, a financial analysis company, has done a number of studies estimating the costs and benefits of providing a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction. Every report has found that cities and states will save far more than they spend to provide such a right, due to avoided costs around shelters, health care, foster care, and other social safety net services.
- Other impact studies: Our comprehensive bibliography tracks the studies that have analyzed the impact of providing counsel for tenants in eviction cases.
- Public opinion research: Data for Progress and The Appeal has conducted polling showing that support for a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction has grown to the point that “81 percent of voters—including 87 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of independents, and 70 percent of Republicans—support[ing] a right to counsel for evictions proceedings.”
- Talking points: we've put together some eviction RTC talking points that can be used with policymakers, funders, and others.
Lessons from Four Cities Fighting to Stop Evictions with Right to Counsel: This outlines lessons on a variety of topics: organizing, campaign beginnings and strategies, changing the landlord-tenant power imbalance, and much more (including a thorough resource list). These lessons emerged during a webinar series co-hosted by RTCNYC and NCCRC.
- Landlord talk: The National Apartment Association observed that "The effort to mandate a renter’s access to legal representation when facing housing displacement appears to be losing no steam in 2022."
Who supports eviction RIGHT to counseL?
- National advocacy groups:
- The Center for American Progress: A Right to Counsel is a Right to a Fighting Chance
- Center for Popular Democracy - Social Housing for All
- CityHealth - Legal Support for Renters
- Data for Progress: Homes for All
- Housing Not Handcuffs: Policy Solutions
- The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC): Tenant Protections and Emergency Rental Assistance During and Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic
- New America: Displaced in America: Policy Recommendations
- People's Action: A National Homes Guarantee
- PolicyLink: Legal assistance to prevent evictions
- Federal government:
- The Federal Reserve:
- FedCommunities, Eviction Moratorium Highlights Need for Tenants To Have Counsel
- Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Evictions Highlight Need for Tenants To Have Counsel
- Legal Services Corporation: Opinion: Renters facing eviction should have a right to a lawyer
- The National League of Cities: Using Right to Counsel as an Eviction Diversion Strategy (blog) and Expanding Access to Legal Representation: Right to Counsel & Eviction Prevention (webinar)
- Real estate industry:
- Multifamily NW: "If a renter needs assistance to help understand their rights, they should have access to qualified representation", in Portland Mercury
- Real Estate Board of NY: testimony in support of NY State right to counsel bill
Organizing around the tenant right to counsel
Historically, the movement for a right to counsel in civil cases has been driven by the legal community: legal services organizations, private bar associations, law firms, pro bono organizations, nonprofits, access to justice commissions, legal academics, and so on. However, efforts to establish a right to counsel in eviction cases have been achieved in places like New York City, San Francisco, and Newark largely through the efforts of community-based tenant organizing group. When the right to counsel campaigns are centered upon such groups, achievement of the right to counsel can not only increase fairness in the judicial system, but also help transform the general power dynamic between tenants and landlords.
In November 2019, the NCCRC co-hosted a 90-minute webinar with the Right to Counsel Coalition of NYC (RTCNYC) to explore how attorneys can work with tenant organizers in order to pursue a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction. Here are the materials from that webinar:
Additionally, RTCNYC has developed:
- An organizing toolkit for jurisdictions looking to initiate a campaign around an eviction right to counsel;
- A campaign map displaying where campaigns are active;
- A convening of organizers that led to a list of shared principles for legislation.
- A documentary on how RTCNYC achieved the right to counsel in NYC.
- A report on how the eviction right to counsel has strengthened the tenant movement in NYC.
Recognizing the eviction RTC movement's victories and movers
Prior to 2017, no jurisdiction in the country provided a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction. But as we closed out 2021, there were 3 states and 13 cities with such a right, a testament to the incredible work of tenant organizers, legal services programs, community-based organizations, and others. And the movement is only picking up steam. 2022 promises to be another huge year, with activity in regions all over the country. But before that work begins, we invited speakers from across the country to help all of us recognize the immense progress and dramatic victories that have already propelled the movement forward.