All about eviction RTC efforts in LA City / County

07/16/2024, Legislation, Housing - Evictions

UPDATE July 2024: LA County ordinance to provide tenant RTC passes first vote!

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, an ordinance that would create a right to counsel for tenants at 80% or below of area median income who are facing eviction in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, passed its first vote on July 16, 2024.  If approved in the final vote on July 23, 2024, the ordinance would go into effect on January 1, 2025, making LA County the second county and the 24th jurisdiction overall to create such a right.  The story notes that currently only 3% of LA tenants have access to counsel, compared to 88% of landlords.


ABC 7, My News LA, and LAist also covered the vote.


Update: City of LA Housing Department report looks to advance RTC process


An October 2023 report from the Los Angeles Housing Department to the City Council responds to a Feb 2023 order by the Council to provide recommendations on a RTC ordinance.  The report calls for the City Attorney to draft an ordinance creating a RTC covering all tenants at or below 80% of area median income for both evictions and housing subsidy terminations and phasing in the RTC over five years.  The report also notes that


From the start of the program in 2021 through June 2023, the EDP has provided legal services to 7,883 households, consisting of 1,967 full-scope legal representation and 5,916 cases supported with limited-scope representation. The reported outcomes indicate that of the 715 closed full-scope legal cases, 632 cases (88%) resulted in positive outcomes for the households through staying in their homes, receiving time and money to move out, or getting a waiver of back rent.  The reported economic benefits of the closed full-scope cases indicate that the societal gains of this program over a one-year period range from $8,120,941 in short-term benefits (court fee waivers, waived back rent, and relocation assistance) to $4,614,565 in long-term economic benefits (the savings to the tenant over three years due to not moving, calculated as the difference between the tenant’s rent and the Fair Market Rent over 36 months, plus $2,000 in relocation expenses).

Update: LA County votes to start RTC codification process


On July 11, 2023, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted to take a major step towards right to counsel.  From My News LA:

In a unanimous vote, the board directed its attorneys to return within 10 months with a “Right to Counsel” ordinance, with the goal of ensuring legal representation for eligible tenants in unincorporated areas by the 2024-25 fiscal year. The board also directed the director of the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs to report back in 180 days with a plan for a phased expansion of the program to extend the same legal representation guarantee to eligible tenants in all county areas outside the city of Los Angeles, with the goal of universal access by 2030-31.


The vote was also covered by LAist, ABC 7, LA Times (reprinted by Yahoo), Santa Monica Mirror, and The Real Deal.


Update: Ballot initiative passes; city motion introduced


The UHA ballot initiative passed in November 2022, which is estimated to provide $80 million in funding for a right to counsel.  And in February 2023 "Six [Los Angeles City] council members filed a motion seeking recommendations by the Los Angeles Housing Department on establishing a Right to Counsel ordinance and program."  The introduction was widely covered by the press, including by KCRW, Fox 11 LA, LAist, Los Angeles Daily News, NBC Los Angeles, Los Angeles Magazine, KNX News, and The Real Deal.


Update: Ballot initiative would provide funding for right to counsel


the United to House LA ballot initaitive (UHA), if enacted by voters in November 2022, would among other things provide upwards of $80 million in funding for a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction.


Update: City and County provide funding for move towards right to counsel


The County of Los Angeles has appropriated $8.7 million for tenant representation, while the City of Los Angeles has put $10 mlllion towards tenant defense.


Update: report finds right to counsel would save City/County of Los Angeles millions of dollars


A report for Los Angeles by Stout concludes that “With an annual investment of approximately $47.3 million by the County and $34.6 million by the City separately, the County and the City may avoid costs of approximately $226.9 million and $120.3 million, respectively”, and that “In 95 percent of cases where the tenant was represented, the tenant had a high likelihood of avoiding disruptive displacement.” 


Update: Los Angeles adds more to eviction defense fund


This past week, in response to organizing efforts by the Los Angeles Renters Right to Coalition, the Los Angeles City Council voted to add $9 million to its eviction defense fund, bringing the total in the fund to $23.5 million.  ABC 7 had a story right before this past week’s hearing.  


The Los Angeles Renters Right to Coalition has issued an open letter applauding the additional investment but taking the City to task in not codifying an actual right to counsel for any tenants.  The Coalition also pointed to a recent study by Stout of LA finding that the City would save $3.50 for every $1 spent on eviction representation.


Update: Los Angeles passes Phase I of right to counsel!


As reported by KTLA 5, the Los Angeles County Supervisors have passed a motion that will eviction representation pilots at 5 sites with $2 million in funding. The motion also "direct[s] the CEO to report back in the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Recommended Budget identifying $12,500,000 annually to operate the Program going forward and take all actions necessary to allocate ongoing funding to fully implement the Program."


Update: More than 100 gather to support right to counsel for eviction cases


ABC 7 reports that a town hall meeting on right to counsel in eviction cases drew more than a hundred people.  LA is looking to join the three other cities (NY, San Francisco, and Newark) in providing such a right.


Update: efforts continue to create and fund eviction right to counsel


Curbed LA reports that the City of Los Angeles is poised to allocate $3 million towards the eviction right to counsel effort.  Also, a report out of LA County by Public Counsel and others urges a number of reforms to the landlord/tenant law, including the right to counsel as an essential tenant protection.


Update: advocates push for $10 million towards right to counsel


According to the LA Times, advocates in Los Angeles are urging the City to invest $10 million towards the first step of an eviction right to counsel, which would assist about 10,000 tenants.  The article explains that the Mayor supports the plan in principle.




  • The LA Times published an editorial supporting the right to counsel in civil cases generally, saying that "The essence of the Gideon ruling was that a criminal trial in which the defendant faced prosecutors without a lawyer was inherently unfair. If that’s true in criminal cases, how could it not be equally true of landlord-tenant, child support or other civil cases?"
  • The LA Times followed that piece up with another editorial, this time urging the City to adopt a right to counsel for eviction cases specificially.
  • letter to the editor in the LA Times urges a right to counsel in civil cases such as evictions and immigration by arguing that counsel “is an idea whose critical importance is well-accepted and now must be implemented."   A second letter to the editor, written by Joe Donlin of SAJE (the main tenant organizing entity), applauded the LA Times’ editorial board in urging lawmakers to prioritize civil representation in eviction cases but says that only a right to counsel (rather than just a funding increase) will “create enduring change.”
  • NCCRC participant Clare Pastore penned a piece for the San Francisco Daily Journal making the case for Los Angeles to enact an eviction right to counsel by citing to LA’s 31,000 eviction filings and 30,000 homeless persons as a compelling argument.



In June 2018, a motion was introduced to the City of Los Angeles Housing Committee asking it to examine the right to counsel in eviction cases.  The motion referenced the successful efforts in NYC and San Francisco.  In August 2018, the Housing Committee responded to the motion by recommending that the City explore a housing right to counsel ordinance.  The motion “direct[s] the Housing and Community Investment Department to develop recommendations for such a program and report back to the City Council within 120 days.”  Los Angeles has just under 55,000 eviction cases filed every year, and about 53,000 homeless people, and about 11% of the homeless cite eviction as the cause, according to LAist.  You can read more in Medium (which references the Shriver pilots data on the impact of housing representation), CurbedMynewsLA, and the LA Daily News, and the National Low Income Housing Coalition has a page devoted to the motion.


Previously, the right to counsel in evictions was approached from the fair housing angle.  A 2015 rule from the Obama Administration requires all cities to determine if they are "affirmatively furthering fair housing", which is a requirement of the federal Fair Housing Act.  In November 2017, the City of Los Angeles released its fair housing assessment, and one of the stated goals is to "Protect tenants’ legal rights through a 'Right to Counsel' Ordinance."   The assessment notes that evictions in the city dropped significantly after the passage of the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act, suggesting that increased representation has reduced the rate of evictions, but the assessment notes the insufficiency of current state funding.  It then charges several city departments and the City Council with exploring such an ordinance.



The NCCRC has been supporting the efforts of the LA Campaign.