By SAJE’s Anti-Eviction Team
August 10, 2023
Each year, more than 40,000 Los Angeles-area renters receive eviction notices. Just 3% of these renters have legal representation when they appear in eviction court, while 88% of landlords who sue for eviction are represented by attorneys. This imbalance of resources and power has manifold negative effects on the lives of Angelenos: it exacerbates existing inequities in low-income, Black, and Latino communities, defangs hard-won tenant protections, worsens the region’s affordable housing and homelessness crises, and costs taxpayers millions of dollars annually.
A new report authored by SAJE and the Los Angeles Right to Counsel Coalition (LA RTC) demonstrates how guaranteeing renters the right to an attorney is an effective tool in preventing the human and financial costs of eviction. A Judicious Investment: Right to Counsel Is a Cost-Effective Way to Solve Los Angeles’ Affordability Crisis and Keep Angelenos Housed compiles data from U.S. cities that have implemented a Renter’s Right to Counsel and seen a significant reduction in evictions as well as money spent on shelters and temporary housing, medical and mental-health services, and law enforcement and incarceration tactics used to address homelessness. The report finds a Renter’s Right to Counsel would save the City of Los Angeles $120.3 million and Los Angeles County $226.9 million each year across policy domains from emergency shelter and housing programs to educational funding, healthcare, and foster care, among others.
As envisioned, a Renter’s Right to Counsel would have three elements:
- Eviction Prevention: Services for tenants in the form of outreach, education and legal advice
- Emergency Rental Assistance: Funds to that can prevent evictions via early interventions for vulnerable tenants, especially seniors, tenants with disabilities, and very-low-income tenants
- The Right to an Attorney: Tenants who earn 80% of the area median income (AMI) or less should have the right to free legal representation during eviction proceedings.
You can read the full report here.