Philadelphia Landlord-Tenant Court processes approximately 20,000 filings each year. Many of those cases are not contested by the tenant and the landlord is given legal authority to take possession of their unit back. However, nearly half of the remaining cases settle with a Judgment by Agreement (JBA) – a process designed to facilitate a resolution of the dispute between the landlord and tenant.
Reinvestment Fund’s research has identified a number of positive and negative attributes to the process and resulting agreements. In this Brief, Reinvestment Fund reviews the learnings from an analysis of JBAs as well as interviews with tenants and landlords (and their respective attorneys) and court observation.
When Philadelphia Landlord-Tenant court reopens after the COVID-19 closure, there will undoubtedly be a backlog of cases that landlords will have been waiting to file. In this moment, when stable housing is more than ever a critical part of public health strategy and landlords need stabilized incomes to provide that housing, it is the time to make significant decisions around court processes and resources to ensure that the eviction process operates in a way that is both fair and efficient.
Based on our research, we recommend the city and court take several actions to enhance equity in the court process at a time when filing volume will put pressure on the system to resolve cases more quickly. Our key recommendations include:
Ira Goldstein, Ph.D., is the President of Policy Solutions at Reinvestment Fund, a results-oriented, socially responsible community investment group. Dr. Goldstein has conducted detailed spatial and statistical analyses in many cities and regions across the US.
As Managing Director for Policy Solutions, Emily Dowdall guides a team of analysts conducting quantitative, spatial, and qualitative research in support of more equitable communities in Philadelphia and across the country. Ms. Dowdall also oversees business operations for the department and leads cross-departmental collaboration efforts for Policy Solutions. Her research expertise includes affordable housing needs, neighborhood stabilization, fair housing, early child education access, and program evaluation.
Colin Weidig conducts evaluations, strategic planning, and quantitative analyses for philanthropic, government, and private clients. Employing both quantitative (including spatial, statistical, and analytics-based) and qualitative (including interviews and focus groups) analyses, Mr. Weidig uses research to help clients better understand their markets, programs, and policy advocacy.
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