Denver enacts eviction right to counsel

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06/15/2021, Legislation, Housing - Evictions

UPDATE: City ordinance passed by Council

 

The City Council has passed an ordinance to guarantee counsel to low-income tenants facing eviction.  Advocates are still pursuing a ballot initiative that would extend the right to all tenants regardless of income and create a new funding stream.

 

Background

 

Advocates in Denver are seeking to pass a ballot initiative establishing a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction.  You can learn more on their campaign website, and Westword covered the launch of the campaign.  


At the same time, the City Council has introduced an ordinance to provide a similar right, although it would have more limits than the ballot initiative.  Westword and Denverrite have more on the ordinance.

 

A 2018 Denver study found that "In the few instances in which a renter had legal counsel, they usually prevailed in the eviction proceeding. Without representation, the dispossession rate was 43 percent in DHA cases and 68 percent in the sample of private housing cases."  It also found that "the Denver Housing Authority filed one eviction over an alleged $4 of unpaid rent, and the median amount in dispute was only a bit higher than $200."

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

 

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The NCCRC has worked with DSA Denver on the ballot initiative language and process.