Right to Counsel Passes Philadelphia City Council!

Right to Counsel passed unanimously in Philadelphia City Council on November 14! This bill guarantees low income tenants an attorney in eviction cases and is a critical step towards stabilizing communities, stemming the effects of gentrification, and addressing systemic racism & housing discrimination in Philadelphia. Read more about this legislation here and here. Read CLS…

IMPACT: Billie Washington

Billie Washington was struggling to make ends meet. A former home care attendant, she was no longer able to work due to her rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other illnesses. While waiting for her disability benefits hearing, she began receiving General Assistance. Ms. Washington carefully budgeted the monthly $205.00 to cover her rent, toiletries, medical co-payments, and public transportation to get to doctor’s appointments. When she found out that General Assistance was being eliminated, Ms. Washington felt like she had the rug yanked out from under her. Describing the feeling of desperation, she said, “I was crushed. I just, I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

IMPACT: Cheryl Springs

Cheryl Springs had been paying her rent for years and had the receipts to prove it. She was shocked when she began to receive eviction notices alleging that she owed $1,400 for rent and water bills. Ms. Springs knew she had to find a way to save her family from wrongful eviction.Cheryl: “My daughter has cerebral palsy, and she can’t walk or talk. Why would I not pay rent? We’d be in the street. And I have grandbabies. I can’t do that to them. I have to take care of my family.”Although Ms. Springs showed all of her payment receipts to her landlord, she continued to receive eviction notices and harassing phone calls. Ms. Springs’ landlord also broke the terms of her lease by sending her water bills for the full amount, instead of the usage amount.  Fearing eviction, Ms. Springs came to CLS for help.

IMPACT: Preventing Homelessness

“Community Legal Services is the single most important organization to prevent homelessness.” – Sister Mary Scullion, Executive Director, Project HOMEWhen low-income Philadelphians are threatened with homelessness, Community Legal Services (CLS) tackles tough issues to give our clients a safe place to live. CLS works to prevent many of the causes of homelessness, stabilizing neighborhoods and saving money for the City. It can cost up to $60,000 to put up a family in a shelter, but CLS’ work to keep a family in their home is a fraction of that cost.We prevent homelessness by standing up against:

IMPACT: Mr. M

Mr. M contacted Community Legal Services’ Housing Hotline, frantic that he and his four children would be homeless. Only a month earlier, he paid his first and last month’s rent along with a security deposit to a woman claiming to be the owner of the home he and his family were now living in. As it turned out, she had lost the property at a sheriff sale months prior to this transaction. On top of that, Mr. M was served with an eviction complaint, filed by the actual owner against a different tenant “and all occupants.”  Even though he had no idea who the named defendants were, he stood to be evicted as a result of this complaint against them.

IMPACT: Rose Candelario

Rose Candelario and her husband, Raleigh Blythe, were shocked to find their house on a list of foreclosures- particularly since they had been making regular payments to their mortgage. They found out that they had been tricked into taking out a predatory loan, which included a $15,000 balloon payment that the bank did not disclose to them.Rose: “We didn’t know anything about predatory loans. I didn’t even know what a balloon loan was and how it worked. I thought in 15 years, the loan was supposed to be paid in full. We didn’t know there was going to be a balance.”

The Eviction Process in Philadelphia County

Date Posted:  05/14/2013 For information and resources for tenants, please visit www.phillytenant.org. Your landlord has to go to court to evict you.  Here is the process: Step 1: Eviction Notice You may receive an eviction notice (also called a Lease Termination Notice or Notice to Quit) telling you when your landlord wants you to move out.…

Security Deposits in Pennsylvania

Residential security deposits in Pennsylvania are regulated by the Landlord-Tenant Act (68 P.S. §250.511 and §250.512). A security deposit is not the same as rent. It is money that actually belongs to the tenant, but is held by the landlord for tenant-caused damages and sometimes past-due rent. Without the agreement of the landlord, a security…