Philly landlords can't rely as heavily on eviction records anymore
New guidelines around how Philadelphia landlords can use eviction records went into effect this week.
- It's part of an effort to encourage more individualized assessments.
Why it matters: Evictions have long-term consequences. Tenants who are evicted can lose housing subsidy vouchers, become ineligible for public housing programs and be screened out of private housing.
Context: Philadelphia was averaging 20,000 evictions per year before the pandemic. It ranked fourth in total eviction filings among the largest U.S. cities.
- And Black single mothers disproportionately feel the brunt.
Under the new guidelines, landlords can't outright deny potential tenants based solely on eviction records or credit scores.
- They also can't deny anyone because they failed to pay rent during the state's COVID-19 emergency declaration period.
What else: Landlords must disclose their criteria for potential tenants publicly.
- If they reject a tenant, they must notify the person within three business days and provide a reason.
- If landlords violate any of the guidelines, they'll have to pay up to a $2,000 fine.
What they're saying: Councilmember Kendra Brooks, who's behind the legislation, said this is about making the renting process more equitable and transparent.
- "[This] is setting a nationwide precedent for what it means to eliminate structural barriers that keep working class people of color out of the private rental market," Brooks said in a statement.
The other side: Paul Cohen, a lawyer for the Homeowners Association of Philadelphia, said he doesn't believe it's possible to ask landlords to do individualized assessments while also requiring them to disclose uniform criteria.
- "It's confusing and puts landlords and property managers in a difficult position because they don’t know how to comply with the law," he told Axios. "They don’t understand, and neither do I."
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