Low-Income Tenants’ Right to Counsel in Philadelphia

UPDATE: On November 14th, Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed the Legal Representation in Landlord Tenant Court bill, making Philadelphia the fifth city in the nation to pass such historic legislation. According to a press release from the Philadelphia Bar Association, Chancellor Rochelle M. Fedullo praised City Council as well as the collaborative work of the nonprofit members of the Philadelphia Eviction Prevention Project, stating that the legislation will "prevent homelessness and avert the trauma and harm to tenants and their families from being disruptively displaced." 

Philadelphia City Council will be holding a hearing on low-income tenants' Right to Counsel on Tuesday, October 29th at 10 am in Room 400 of City Hall. The related bill, Bill 190386, was introduced by Councilwoman Gym in May, and is currently co-sponsored by Councilmembers Clarke, Greenlee, Henon, Johnson, Jones, and Parker. 

According to a 2017 report by the Reinvestment Fund, approximately 1 in 14 renters in Philadelphia were subjected to an eviction filing each year between 2010 and 2015 (p.3), with evictions disproportionately affecting low-income households and communities of color. Currently, about 90% of tenants facing eviction in Philadelphia do so without an attorney (

Right to Counsel would provide low-income tenants with a free lawyer to support tenants in asserting their rights, locating resources for rental assistance and eviction prevention, and negotiating fair agreements with landlords. Implementing Right to Counsel for tenants would help an estimated 4,000 low-income households and yield a return on investment of nearly $13 for every dollar Philadelphia spends on providing this service, according to a study commissioned by the Philadelphia Bar Association.

Visit for more information about this topic and the work that area legal service providers have done to support tenants through the Philadelphia Eviction Prevention Project (PEPP). PEPP is a collaboration of Community Legal Services, Clarifi, Legal Clinic for the Disabled, Philadelphia VIP, SeniorLAW Center, and Tenant Union Representative Network (TURN).

More from the blog

This month marks the introduction of Philadelphia’s Right to Counsel program for low-income tenants. As of February 1, 2022, qualifying renters who live in the 19121 or 19139 zip codes have the right to an attorney in eviction cases. Tenants living in those zip codes can call the Philly Tenant...
Did you know that many Pennsylvania Court dockets are available to the public online? Docket sheets typically list the proceedings and documents filed in a case. They can be helpful in figuring out what has happened in a case so far, or what stage a case might be in ( but note that there may be a...
Interested in landlord tenant law? Check out Bisel's Pennsylvania Landlord Tenant Law and Practice . It includes forms, checklists and a thorough discussion of the principles of Pennsylvania landlord tenant law with emphasis on residential leases. Another helpful resource is PBI's Representing...