New law significantly helps people facing eviction

How important is it to have an attorney in housing court? A review of the one-year-old NYC Right to Counsel (RTC) law shows that evictions in New York City have decreased markedly since the law went into effect.

RTC is the first law of its kind in the U.S. Passed in late 2017, RTC provides lawyers to people facing eviction who otherwise could not afford one. Under this law, renters who have incomes under 200 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for free representation in eviction cases. The RTC NYC Coalition is also trying to pass a bill to increase the federal poverty level threshold to 400 percent to make more people eligible for assistance.

Currently, the law provides this assistance to tenants in 20 of NYC's zip codes. By 2022, the law is projected to cover all of the city's zip codes.

And there is more positive news from housing court: more tenants throughout the city are getting attorneys to represent them. Only one percent of tenants had a lawyer in fiscal year 2013. This number increased dramatically to 30 percent in fiscal year 2018.

People of all income levels need an attorney in eviction cases

It is always wise to seek the counsel of a skilled legal professional for guidance in an eviction case. Many individuals make decisions and assumptions based on anecdotal evidence without learning how the law directly impacts their specific circumstances. Whether you are eligible for representation through RTC or you retain an attorney in private practice, you are taking a critical step in protecting your rights and fighting your eviction case.

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