Community Legal Services (CLS), one of our nonprofit partners, recently published a report highlighting the negative impact eviction records have on tenants. When an eviction complaint is filed against a tenant in court, it becomes a permanent burden for the tenant, regardless of the outcome of the case.
Many landlords will deny tenants housing if their file has even one eviction record, and without taking context into account. The existence of the complaint itself allows landlords to deny housing. Eviction records can also cause individuals to lose housing subsidy vouchers, deem them ineligible for other public housing programs, and cause them to be screened out of private housing. Eviction records cannot be sealed or expunged in Pennsylvania, even if the case is withdrawn, won by the tenant, or ended by a court-ordered agreement. So even decades-old eviction records can still be used as justification to deny individuals housing.
The report also details how evictions disproportionately impact communities of color and Black Philadelphians in particular. 81% of eviction filings since 2015 were in communities of color, and renters in majority-Black communities had evictions filed against them by landlords in 56% of filings. The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated the issue.
The report highlights best practices and makes recommendations of how the City and State can address the harm caused by eviction records, including passing state legislation to seal or restrict eviction records, passing local protections to limit the use of eviction records in rental decisions, banning blanket ban policies, and expanding agreement options for tenants in landlord-tenant court.
Read the full report on CLS’s website.