Author Archives: zach

  1. Application Issues

    Leave a Comment

    Application Rights/Renter’s Access Act

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec id ante in quam gravida tempus eu non dolor. Proin aliquet risus sit amet nisl molestie, eu efficitur mauris porta. Aliquam et iaculis lectus. Fusce porttitor feugiat pellentesque. Nunc purus tortor, pulvinar in sapien volutpat, posuere ultrices enim. Mauris vel elementum turpis. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia curae; Sed iaculis erat ut tempor consequat. Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Nunc volutpat elit sit amet leo feugiat, sed vehicula ex laoreet. Morbi sit amet enim quam. Morbi at placerat magna.

    Judgment on Record / Satisfying Judgment

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec id ante in quam gravida tempus eu non dolor. Proin aliquet risus sit amet nisl molestie, eu efficitur mauris porta. Aliquam et iaculis lectus. Fusce porttitor feugiat pellentesque. Nunc purus tortor, pulvinar in sapien volutpat, posuere ultrices enim. Mauris vel elementum turpis. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia curae; Sed iaculis erat ut tempor consequat. Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Nunc volutpat elit sit amet leo feugiat, sed vehicula ex laoreet. Morbi sit amet enim quam. Morbi at placerat magna.

    Criminal Background

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec id ante in quam gravida tempus eu non dolor. Proin aliquet risus sit amet nisl molestie, eu efficitur mauris porta. Aliquam et iaculis lectus. Fusce porttitor feugiat pellentesque. Nunc purus tortor, pulvinar in sapien volutpat, posuere ultrices enim. Mauris vel elementum turpis. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia curae; Sed iaculis erat ut tempor consequat. Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Nunc volutpat elit sit amet leo feugiat, sed vehicula ex laoreet. Morbi sit amet enim quam. Morbi at placerat magna.

    Subsidized Housing Admission Issues

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec id ante in quam gravida tempus eu non dolor. Proin aliquet risus sit amet nisl molestie, eu efficitur mauris porta. Aliquam et iaculis lectus. Fusce porttitor feugiat pellentesque. Nunc purus tortor, pulvinar in sapien volutpat, posuere ultrices enim. Mauris vel elementum turpis. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia curae; Sed iaculis erat ut tempor consequat. Interdum et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Nunc volutpat elit sit amet leo feugiat, sed vehicula ex laoreet. Morbi sit amet enim quam. Morbi at placerat magna.

  2. Finding Housing

    Leave a Comment

    Applying for Private Housing

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec rutrum libero ex, et pulvinar leo bibendum sit amet. Nam luctus elementum ipsum. Donec vestibulum mauris eu dui finibus congue. Duis imperdiet libero ac urna porttitor, posuere tempus justo fringilla. Suspendisse ac dolor mi. Phasellus eleifend nibh vel dapibus ornare. Quisque porta, augue sit amet luctus finibus, ligula arcu rutrum nunc, non iaculis justo leo a ex.

    Etiam maximus dapibus ante eu viverra. Phasellus et ante fermentum nibh varius dignissim. Donec et sapien fermentum, imperdiet lorem condimentum, finibus felis. Suspendisse potenti. Nam luctus, tortor sit amet volutpat varius, quam quam tempor quam, ac fringilla dolor nibh at felis. Aliquam nec mi non purus iaculis bibendum congue eget magna. Quisque nisi lectus, pulvinar et lacus luctus, tincidunt rutrum nibh.

    Applying for Subsidized Housing

    Etiam maximus dapibus ante eu viverra. Phasellus et ante fermentum nibh varius dignissim. Donec et sapien fermentum, imperdiet lorem condimentum, finibus felis. Suspendisse potenti. Nam luctus, tortor sit amet volutpat varius, quam quam tempor quam, ac fringilla dolor nibh at felis. Aliquam nec mi non purus iaculis bibendum congue eget magna. Quisque nisi lectus, pulvinar et lacus luctus, tincidunt rutrum nibh.

    Info about rental property

  3. Right to Counsel

    Comments Off on Right to Counsel

    Victory!!

    On November 14th, 2019, Philadelphia City Council unanimously voted to pass a renter’s right to counsel, guaranteeing all low-income renters access to an attorney to fight their eviction. Given the scale, right to counsel will not start immediately. Instead, it will be phased in over five years or more.

    This momentous change was made possible by a decade of advocacy by a local and national community of legal professionals, grassroots organizers, researchers, community members and renters.

    Here are some of the testimonies shared in support of right to counsel:

    • Rasheedah Phillips, Managing Attorney of Policy at CLS: Nov 2019, Mar 2017
    • Barrett Marshall, former Supervising Attorney and Director of PEPP at CLS: Nov 2019

    What is a “Right to Counsel” for Evictions?

    A “right to counsel” means that low-income tenants would be guaranteed access to a lawyer for their eviction proceeding. Currently, tenants in Philadelphia do not have this right. About 90% of tenants in Philadelphia face an eviction without the assistance of a lawyer.

    Legal representation is an effective tool to prevent eviction and homelessness. In 2017, New York City was the first city to pass right to counsel legislation. Since then, San Francisco, CA, Newark, NJ and Cleveland, OH have also passed right to counsel.

    A right to counsel in Philadelphia would give even footing for tenants in court and access to greater resources to resolve conflict.

    Eviction Prevention Works in Philadelphia and Can Be Scaled Up to a Right to Counsel

    The Philadelphia Eviction Prevention Project (PEPP) is a collaboration of six service providers started in early 2018 that provides comprehensive services to tenants facing an eviction. PEPP is successful – tenants are more likely to come to their hearing and have better case outcomes when meeting with an advocate.

    An advocate can help a tenant assert their rights or, where a tenant owes back rent, can help negotiate affordable payment agreements or reasonable time for a tenant to move into more affordable housing.

    PEPP has shown that both limited assistance and full representation are important, and choosing one over the other depends on the tenant’s circumstances. Tenants who visited the Help Center and did not receive full representation were still more likely to show up to court and win their cases than tenants that did not meet with a PEPP advocate at all. For this reason, the right to counsel program should use a range of legal assistance, from advice to full representation.  

    We already have nationally recognized local legal aid organizations to carry out this program.  These organizations have spent the last year developing a successful eviction defense program through (PEPP). PEPP legal staff are highly skilled at providing individualized service to tenants to get the best outcomes. Philadelphia can expand this pilot into a full right to counsel.

    What are the Potential Impacts?

    Right to Counsel for tenants could assist thousands low-income households in keeping their home or preventing homelessness, making it one of the major anti-displacement efforts in the City.

    A recent study commissioned by the Philadelphia Bar Association has shown that right to counsel would save the City $45 million in costs of services.

    Additional Resources

    • Policy recommendations of the Mayor’s Task Force on Eviction Prevention and Response: report
    • Overview of the eviction crisis in Philadelphia: report by Reinvestment Fund
    • City Council’s Narrowing the Gap report to address poverty, which includes strategies to increase legal representation for tenants: report
    • Regional Housing Legal Service’s overview of their cost study on a statewide Right to Counsel for Pennsylvania: report

  4. Good Cause for All

    Leave a Comment

    Before 2019, a landlord could evict a tenant without providing a reason for the eviction. That changed when the tenant movement in Philadelphia won a victory in passing “Good Cause” legislation that requires landlords to give an approved reason for evicting a tenant.

    The current bill says that a landlord can move to evict a tenant or end their lease only under certain situations – such as non-payment of rent, if the tenant causes significant damage to the home, if the landlord intends to rent to a family member, if the landlord intends to make significant renovations to an empty unit (full list here). In those cases, the landlord is still required to provide notice to the tenant and follow the legal court process. However, these protections only apply to tenants in leases less than a year. (More on your protections as a tenant, here.)

    The Philadelphia Rent Control Coalition, of which CLS is a member, is fighting to strengthen the existing good cause bill. The Coalition wants to see the bill amended to apply to all tenants (not just tenants with leases less than a year), to give better notice to tenants, and to require landlords to pay relocation fees to tenants.

    A strong good cause bill is necessary as we fight also for rent control, as the two policies work together. With good cause and no rent control, a landlord can still raise the rent to kick a tenant out. With rent control and no good cause, a landlord can evict a tenant for baseless reasons and then hike up the rent for the next tenant.

    Want to get involved?

    Want to learn more?

    • Your protections under the current bill: here
    • City press release about the existing good cause bill: here
    • Good cause legislation (scroll down to Section 9-804. Unfair Rental Practices, (12) Good cause required): here
    • Check out the Philadelphia Rent Control website: here
  5. I don’t have heat!

    Leave a Comment

    Is my landlord required to provide heat?

    Your landlord is required to provide heating systems that can keep living spaces at 68 degrees Fahrenheit from October 1 through April 30.

    If the outside temperature drops below 60 degrees in September or May, then your landlord must provide heating systems then as well.

    See the Property Maintenance Code Section 602.

    It’s not 68 degrees in my rental property. What can I do?

    1. Send a text, email or letter to your landlord asking them to fix the heater or provide adequate heat.
    2. Get a thermometer and measure the temperature in your coldest room. Take photos of the thermometer at least twice a day and keep a written record of the date, time and temperature until the temperature is above 68 degrees.
    3. Contact Licenses & Inspections (L&I) by calling 311. They should treat your complaint as an emergency and can cite your rental property for violations including heat.
    4. If your property is cited by L&I and your landlord retaliates against you, file a complaint with the Fair Housing Commission.
    5. If you live in public housing, request a Grievance Hearing.
    6. If you are still don’t have heat, contact City Council. Search for your representative using this interactive map.

    My electric or gas bill is really high because of heating costs. What can I do?

    1. If the heater is inefficient or not working properly, follow the instructions above. If you asked the landlord in writing to repair the heater and they did not do so, you may demand that the landlord pay for excess utility bills. It’s helpful if you can show that the bills this year are higher than in previous years. For more information, visit our article on suing your landlord.
    2. If your rental property is not properly insulated, visit a Neighborhood Energy Center and apply for Weatherization Assistance. For more information about Weatherization, visit the PA Weatherization Assistance Program website.
    3. If you are setting the thermostat higher than 75 each day, consider lowering the temperature when you are out or sleeping.
    4. If you need help paying the bill, apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and other energy assistance programs.
    5. If you have electric heat, call PECO at 1-800-494-4000. Tell them that you pay for electric heat and confirm that they are charging you residential heating rates.
  6. How can I request a virtual court hearings or other accommodation?

    Leave a Comment

    I’m concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic. Can I have a virtual hearing?

    As of January 2022, if you have a hearing scheduled in Municipal Court, you may contact the court to have the hearing held remotely (over Zoom or by phone) instead of going to court in person. Follow the instructions in this flyer. Landlord Tenant Court is still open and you must attend your hearing in person if you have not asked and been approved for a remote hearing in advance. You do not need to give a reason for wanting a remote hearing.

    I have a disability. Can I have a virtual hearing?

    If you have a disability–either temporary or permanent–and your disability prevents you from attending a court hearing in person, then you may request a virtual hearing as a reasonable accommodation for your disability. You should submit your request at least 5 business days before your hearing.

    Here are the steps:

    1. Fill out the court’s Reasonable Accommodation Request Form.
      • Where it says Nature of the disability for which an accommodation is requested, briefly describe your disability. A disability is any physical or mental condition that substantially limits your ability to see, hear, walk, breath, perform manual tasks, care for yourself, learn, speak, or other major life activity.
      • Where it says Accommodation Requested, state that you are requesting a Zoom hearing because of your disability.
    2. Attach the Reasonable Accommodation Request Form to an email and in the message write your case number, the courtroom, the date and time of the hearing and the reason for your request.
    3. Send the email to these three court staff members:
    4. For questions, you may call the court at 215-686-2910.

    I have a disability. Can I get an accommodation for my in-person hearing?

    If you are attending your hearing in person, but you need the court to accommodate your disability in some way, you should submit a request at least 3 business days before your court hearing.

    1. Fill out the court’s Reasonable Accommodation Request Form.
      • Where it says Nature of the disability for which an accommodation is requested, briefly describe your disability. A disability is any physical or mental illness that substantially limits your ability to see, hear, walk, breath, perform manual tasks, care for yourself, learn, speak, or other major life activity.
      • Where it says Accommodation Requested, state what you need the court to do because of your disability. For example, you might request a sign language interpreter.
    2. Email the form to these two court staff members:
    3. Or send your form by fax to 215-686-2947 Attn: Frank Figaniak and Karen Quick.
    4. Or call 215-686-7986 and leave a voicemail with your case number, your full name, and your contact information.
  7. What are my rights when applying for housing?

    Leave a Comment

    I was rejected by a landlord. What do I do now?

    Tenants in Philadelphia have a right to universal screening criteria before they apply, a written explanation for any rejections they receive, and reconsideration if they are rejected.

    1. Immediately request reconsideration.
    2. Carefully read the notice of rejection.
      • If the landlord did not send an explanation, you may ask why your application was rejected.
      • Look out for prohibited screening criteria like a policy of never renting to people with an eviction record or a credit score below a certain number.
    3. Within seven days of getting the notice of rejection, give the landlord additional documentation. This may include:
      • Proof that you can afford the rent (pay stubs, a voucher, etc.)
      • Letters of recommendation
      • Explanations or proof of why problems that happened in the past will not come up again
      • If your landlord’s reason for rejecting you was not listed in the screening criteria or is prohibited, highlight the law that prohibits it

    I found a place to rent. What happens now?

    • Before you apply, the landlord must give you a list of written screening criteria explaining what information they use to approve or deny applications. The list must be the same for all applicants.
    • After you apply, the landlord must review your rental application and cannot automatically deny you because of your credit score or eviction record.
    • If you have an eviction record, the landlord cannot deny your application due to the eviction, if:
      • The case was withdrawn, dismissed or you won the case.
      • The case resulted in a judgment that has been satisfied or vacated.
      • The case resulted in a judgment by agreement that is current or has been satisfied or vacated.
      • The case filing or resulting judgment is more than 4 years old.
      • The case was filed March 2020 through September 2021 (COVID-19 Emergency Period), unless the landlord claimed violent or criminal activity.

    The landlord still denied my application. What can I do?

    • If the landlord did not give you written screening criteria or a written denial, the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations may investigate the landlord for fair housing violations.
    • If the landlord violated any part of this ordinance, you may file a lawsuit against the landlord in court for up to $2000 per violation. See our article about how to sue a landlord.
  8. I have bedbugs!

    Leave a Comment

    UPDATE: Philadelphia’s Bed Bug law went into effect on January 1, 2021. Tenants and Landlords have important responsibilities under the law. Read More

    What do I do?

    • Tell your landlord right away! Within 5 business days, call, text, email or send a letter.
    • Your landlord has to answer you within 5 business days and send a pest management professional out to inspect within 10 business days.
    • Let the inspector in during reasonable times.
    • If the inspector finds bed bugs, your landlord must then provide written notice to all tenants and hire a pest management professional to do treatment.
    • Prepare your home for treatment by following all the instructions carefully.  It is a lot of work, but it’s important in order to get rid of bed bugs. Visit PA Integrated Pest Management for more information about bed bug treatment.

    Who pays for bed bug treatment?

    • Landlord – The landlord must pay the full cost of treatment if:
      • You let your landlord know about the bedbugs in the first year of your lease, OR
      • You let your landlord know about the bedbugs within 180 days of the discovery of bed bugs in an adjacent unit, OR
      • You are a subsidized housing tenant (PHA public housing, Section 8 voucher, etc.)
    • In all other cases, the landlord and tenant split the cost 50/50.

    What if my Landlord won’t help?

    • Send the landlord a letter asking the landlord to investigate or treat for bed bugs. It is best to send an email or letter. See the sample bed bug demand letter.
    • File a Complaint with L&I. Call 311 or submit the L&I Bed Bug Complaint form.
    • File a Court complaint against the landlord for actual and punitive damages ($2,000), cancellation of rent, and attorneys fees and costs.

    Before you move in, your landlord should:

    • Tell you in writing if the property had bed bugs in the last 120 days.
    • Give you the Health Department’s Bed Bug Information Flyer.
    • Have a Bed Bug Control Plan
    • If your landlord didn’t do this, you can end your lease without penalty.

    For more information, review 9-4800 Responsibilities Concerning Bed Bug Infestation.

  9. Philadelphia Eviction Prevention Project (PEPP)

    Comments Off on Philadelphia Eviction Prevention Project (PEPP)

    What is PEPP?

    In 2017, City Council, the Mayor and legal services agencies partnered to create the Philadelphia Eviction Prevention Project (PEPP), an innovative project to assist tenants facing eviction through legal representation, financial counseling, a live hotline, a court help center, community trainings & educational materials. Community Legal Services leads PEPP in collaboration with Clarifi, Legal Clinic for the Disabled, SeniorLAW Center, TURN, & Philadelphia VIP.

    Services include:

    • Tenant Hotline – live support and referrals to legal services at 267-443-2500.
    • Lawyer of the Day – free, same day representation to income-eligible tenants on the day of their eviction hearing at Municipal Court at 1339 Chestnut St, 6th Floor.
    • Court Navigators – professionals to explain the process, provide resources and offer neutral information at Municipal Court at 1339 Chestnut St, 6th floor.
    • Tenant Help Center – speak with legal staff at the 10th floor of Municipal Court at 1339 Chestnut, 6th floor.
    • Tenant Rights Workshops – learn about your rights and responsibilities with TURN staff:
      • Mon – Fri at 12:30p at 100 S Broad Street Suite 800
      • Tues & Wed at 6:00 at 100 S Broad Street Suite 800
      • Saturdays at 11am at 1701 West Lehigh Avenue Room 1102.
    • Financial Counseling – speak with a financial counselor by calling 267-765-2711.
    • Pro Bono Representation – free representation to income-eligible tenants from private pro bono attorneys working with Philadelphia VIP.

    Here are all of the services under PEPP: English and Spanish


  10. Tenant Tuesdays at Two

    Leave a Comment

    Join Community Legal Services every Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. for a weekly tenant-focused conversation on the latest information for tenants, where we answer your housing-related questions.

    Tuesday, June 30, 2020: New Rental Assistance Program Starts July 6, 2020 English

    Tuesday, June 23, 2020: Fair Housing Commission English/Español

    Tuesday, June 16, 2020: Legal Clinic for the Disabled English/Español

    Tuesday, June 9, 2020: Emergency Housing Protection Act in Philadelphia City Council. English

    Tuesday, May 26, 2020: How to Get Legal Help for a Housing Issue English/Español

    Tuesday, May 19, 2020: Philadelphia Eviction Prevention Project English/Español

    Tuesday, May 12, 2020: Rental Assistance and Disability Rights during COVID-19 English/Español

    Tuesday, May 5, 2020: Utilities during COVID-19 English

    Tuesday, April 28, 2020: CARES Act Protections for Tenants English

    Tuesday April 21, 2020: Repairs during COVID-19 English

    Tuesday April 14, 2020: Illegal Evictions during COVID-19 English

Call Hotline
(267) 443-2500
Need Help?
Call Us