Eviction Records in Philadelphia
The Renter’s Access Act
October 13, 2021
The Renter’s Access Act goes into effect today! For more information about your rights when applying for housing, read our article or review our flyer in English or en Español.
July 15, 2021
The Renter’s Access Act passed City Council on June 24, 2021 and Mayor Kenney signed both bills into law today!
Renter’s Access Act Bill #1
Renter’s Access Act Bill #2
The new law goes into effect on October 13, 2021 and will define how and when landlords can use tenant’s eviction and credit history.
Here’s a short summary of the new law:
- Landlords must give applicants a list of written screening criteria explaining what information they use to approve or deny applications.
- Landlords must review each rental application and cannot automatically deny an application based solely on credit score or eviction record.
- When denying an application, landlords must notify the applicant in writing, provide any screening reports, and give the applicant the opportunity to dispute the denial.
- When reconsidering an application, landlords must review evidence that the screening report was inaccurate and consider evidence mitigating circumstances.
- If a landlord does not follow the law, the applicant may file a complaint with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations or sue in court for up to $2000 per violation.
May 7, 2021
On April 15, 2021, Philadelphia City Councilmember Kendra Brooks introduced the Renter’s Access Act. The Renter’s Access Act seeks to address the harm caused by eviction records, which make it harder for tenants to find safe and affordable housing. You can read the two bills that make up the act here and here.
More and more, landlords use tenant screening companies, internet searches and other methods to screen tenants. Many landlords will refuse to rent to tenants with even one eviction filing on their record, no matter what happened in the case. That means that even if a tenant was never evicted, they can still be denied housing because of the eviction filing. This makes it nearly impossible to find new housing if an eviction filing appears on your background check.
The pandemic has been especially hard on Black communities and other communities of color, seniors, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ people. These groups have been the most likely to lose income, and be put at greater risk for eviction filings, increasing the chance that they will experience homelessness and instability beyond the pandemic. Eviction filings have an especially harmful effect on Black women and their families, causing dangerous cycles of generational poverty and instability.
During this time, we have seen more clearly than ever how the unfair use of eviction records blocks opportunity and creates greater inequality.
The Renters’ Access Act, introduced by Councilmember Kendra Brooks (Bills No. 21032900 and 21033000) is a major solution to this problem. These bills will create a tenant screening policy that provides guidelines for how eviction records can be used when landlords review applications for tenancy. Landlords will be required to review each applicant as an individual, and give weight to other circumstances besides just an eviction record. It will also bar blanket eviction bans- policies that reject applicants with one or more evictions on their record no matter what.
Tenants and housing advocates urge Philadelphia City Council to pass the Renters’ Access Act, so tenant applications will be viewed fairly. To find and contact your local City Councilmember and ask them to support the legislation, visit https://phlcouncil.com/council-members/. To learn more about or get involved with eviction records advocacy please contact email@example.com.
Breaking the Record: Dismantling the Barriers Eviction Records Place on Housing Opportunities
January 8, 2021
We encourage you to read our report on eviction records and the barriers they create for access to safe and stable housing. This report was created in close consultation with the Black and Brown Workers Cooperative, and with input from legal advocacy organizations around Pennsylvania.
Highlights of The Report
- Eviction records create barriers to stable and safe housing, impacting Black Philadelphians and communities of color the most negatively
- Even if a tenant wins or settles their case, an eviction filing will stay on their credit report for at least seven years and will always remain a public record that anyone can access
- Some tenants are afraid that if they exercise their legal rights, landlords will file for eviction against them and create an eviction record
- The companies that run background checks cannot always ensure that eviction records are completely accurate. These companies also make suggestions to landlords about who to accept for housing, often based on these incomplete records.
The Big Picture
The COVID-19 housing crisis will only create more eviction records that bar Philadelphians, and especially women of color, from accessing safe and stable housing. To combat this, we recommend:
- Passing state laws to seal records, and enacting court policies that seal or restrict access to eviction records
- Creating local protections that restrict the use of eviction records in rental decisions, and that stop blanket ban policies
- Expanding agreement options for tenant in Landlord-Tenant Court, and developing administrative rules limiting or sealing access to eviction filings
What can I do?
Have you or someone close to you struggled to access housing opportunities because of an eviction on your record? Share your story!
The Philadelphia Eviction Prevention Project wants to hear from you, and for your voice and ideas to help design and advocate for better systems and policies that work for you.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about your experience!
Please note that this email address will not accept requests for services. For assistance with current landlord-tenant legal issues, please call the Landlord Tenant Hotline at 267-443-2500.