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New Measure Will Give Lawyers to Tenants Facing Eviction in San Francisco

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“No Eviction Without Representation!”

Advocates for tenants rights should rejoice, this new ballot measure for June 2018 would give all San Franciscans the right to legal representation when their landlord attempts to evict them.  Which means if you cannot afford an attorney to challenge the eviction, the city will provide you with one.  Just as the 6th Amendment to the constitution insists that all defendants in criminal trials shall be afforded legal counsel, this new law would cause the city to provide you with a lawyer at no cost when you’re getting served eviction papers.

Longtime tenant advocate and former civil-rights attorney Dean Preston had this to say about the new measure, “San Franciscans believe our judicial system should give everyone a fair shake, but when the vast majority of tenants evicted from their home don’t even have a lawyer, the one-sided result is anything but fair,” said Dean Preston, “this initiative will ensure that, if you’re facing eviction, you will have someone by your side.”

A coalition of tenant groups, neighborhood leaders, and senior advocates submitted 9,485 valid petition signatures to the department of elections for the new ballot measure.

If it is approved by voters, the No Eviction Without Representation Initiative will make San Francisco the first city in California to provide a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction.  A 2014 report by the Budget and Legislative Analyst, San Francisco tenants faced with eviction legal proceedings in San Francisco Superior Court were taken to court without the benefit of legal representation in 80% to 90% of eviction lawsuits.  And landlords almost always have an attorney on their side.

As in a lot of housing cases, San Francisco is following New York City’s lead.  In August 2017 New York past a very similar bill to give tenants legal protection against landlords.  “No legal proceeding is fair if only one side has a lawyer,” said Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) after the bill passed. “The worst landlords have used housing court as a weapon, hauling tenants into court on flimsy eviction cases because they knew that in the vast majority of cases the tenant would not have a lawyer.”

According to the SF Right To Council Comittee, a new poll found that San Francisco voters citywide overwhelmingly support the proposed ballot initiative by more than a 2-1 margin.  The survey of likely SF voters in the June 2018 election found that 60% of voters would support creating a right to legal representation for San Francisco tenants facing an eviction from their home, while 27% would oppose the measure, with 13% of voters undecided.  The telephone poll by the firm Public Policy Polling surveyed 501 likely voters from October 3-4, 2017.

So for those of you who haven’t already been evicted from San Francisco, there may be justice in the form of free legal council on the horizon.

Check out the Initiative Text Here

Thanks to the The SF Right To Council Comittee

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

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