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 Hotline at 267-443-2500 to see if they are eligible for free legal representation based on their income.
The launch of Right to Counsel is the initial phase in implementing the Philadelphia Ordinance that added Section 9-808, “Legal Representation in Landlord Tenant Court”, to the Philadephia Code. As one of our previous blog posts described, this legislation was passed by Philadelphia City Council on November 14, 2019 (Bill 190368 of 2019).
In a press release from the Philadelphia Bar Association, which championed the bill, Chancellor Wesley R. Payne, IV stated that Right to Counsel is “a win for both renters and landlords” as it “provides critical aid to tenants facing the loss of their homes” and moves towards “reducing Philadelphia's poverty rate and stabilizing our neighborhoods”. Chancellor Payne also pointed to a study, referred to as the Stout report, which found that investing in Right to Counsel could potentially save the City millions of dollars each year.
The Right to Counsel program will eventually expand to all areas of Philadelphia. In the meantime, tenants living in other zip codes can visit www.phillytenant.org or call the Philly Tenant Hotline for free legal advice and possible representation.