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Protect Tenants' Rights - Oppose PA House Bill 71


Protect Tenants' Rights - Oppose PA House Bill 71

Date Posted: 

Pennsylvania House Bill 71 (HB71), which would reduce evictions from 21 to 12 days, passed out of Pennsylvania House Urban Affairs Committee on May 14, 2019.

HB71 is a harmful bill and Community Legal Services (CLS) opposes it.

The provisions of HB71 would put tenants and their families in the virtually impossible position of trying to find housing within a 12-day time period and will lead to increased homelessness throughout the state – particularly in cities like Philadelphia where there are over 18,000 eviction filings per year.  Every day of the current 21-day time period is critical in a tenant or a family’s ability to transition into housing and avoid homelessness after an eviction. 

HB71 would:

  • Significantly harm the elderly, persons with disabilities, and those that are ill or injured.
  • Place great strain on social service agencies and increase homelessness throughout the Commonwealth, as people struggle to find a place to live.
  • Create unique hardships for vulnerable individuals and families, such as senior citizens who need specialized care, children who need special schools or childcare, and domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.
  • Force low-income renters to move to less suitable neighborhoods or residences, risking employment termination[1] or adverse educational outcomes,[2] accelerating gentrification and exacerbating its ill effects. Displacement and eviction pushes the underprivileged out of long-term working class neighborhoods and intensifies an already untenable situation.
  • Increase inequality, as the balance of power in Landlord-Tenant matters substantially favors landlords at the outset—landlords have deeper financial resources and more flexibility in negotiations. 
  • Make it more likely that a tenant will not be able to raise the security deposit needed to secure a new unit, or be able to access or utilize their old security deposit. 

HB 71 is clearly unconstitutional and illegal as only the Court has the power to establish Court procedures. The PA Apartment Association agrees with our position, ”the Court has the exclusive power to promulgate procedure rules.” See letters below.

The Housing Alliance of PA has set up a letter generator that allows you to send a message to your State Representative opposing the bill.  If you have a quick moment, please consider using the generator to send this message – every letter will help. Click here to send a message to your House representative, urging them to Vote NO on HB71.

[1] Matthew Desmond, Evicted 380 n.1 (2016).

[2] Id. at 371 n.6 (citing Matthew Desmond and Weihua An, Neighborhood and Network Disadvantage Among Urban Renters, 2 Sociological Science 329-50 (2015) (“neighborhood disadvantage [is] positively associated with community support, net of income, education, residential mobility, race, age, gender, employment status, and network composition. Residents in disadvantaged neighborhoods with strong ties to homeowners and the college educated were just as likely to offer support to their neighbors as those who lacked such ties. This suggests the strong presence of local gift exchange in distressed neighborhoods, one relatively unaffected by the composition of people’s extended networks.”)).