Right to Counsel Advocacy
Tenants in zip codes 19121, 19134, 19139 and 19144 who make less than 200% of the federal poverty level are currently eligible for free representation in eviction cases through a program called Right to Counsel. Free legal help can be accessed by calling the Philly Tenant Hotline at (267) 443-2500.
If you have an upcoming court date, you may receive a flyer or phone call from a representative to connect you with the Philly Tenant Hotline for possible free legal representation in court. But do not wait for a call, it is best to call the hotline at 267-443-2500 as soon as you have a court date.
History of Right to Counsel in Philadelphia
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. Right now, only about 20% of tenants have an attorney, compared to over 80% of landlords. Given the scale, Right to Counsel will be phased in over many years.
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. The City funded the first year of operations in 2021.
Right to Counsel officially launched in February 1, 2022 for tenants zip codes 19121 and 19139 who made less than 200% of the federal poverty level are currently eligible. Additional zip codes 19134 and 19144 were added in 2023. Additional zip codes will continue to be added in the coming years.
To find out if you are eligible for legal representation, please call the Philly Tenant Hotline at 267-443-2500.
Where can I find more information?
- No Eviction Without Representation: report by the American Civil Liberties Union
- 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