March 20, 2019
Denver, CO – The Senate Judiciary Committee today voted 3-to-2 to pass SB19-180, Eviction Legal Defense Fund, a bill sponsored by Senator Faith Winter (D-Adams County). This legislation would create a fund to help provide legal counsel to Coloradans who are facing eviction. It now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.
“Far too many Colorado renters will never win an eviction battle in court simply because they cannot afford legal representation. The lack of legal representation puts them at an extreme disadvantage, often times leading to eviction for too many hardworking Colorado families,” said Senator Winter, whose district includes Adams County which has the highest eviction rate in Colorado, according to research by Princeton University.
In recent years, rising home and rental prices in Colorado have made it difficult for tenants to afford housing. Many renters are uncertain of their rights when facing a dispute with a landlord. If those renters cannot afford an attorney, they are much more likely to lose in court. Studies have shown that tenants who have legal representation in court face a 77 percent lower chance of eviction, and landlords will sometimes even drop a case if they find out a tenant has representation.
“Our solution is to create an eviction legal defense fund to finance a pilot program with the ultimately goal of providing all Colorado tenants with legal representation,” said Senator Winter. “I am hopeful that this legislation will even the playing field and help tenants and landlords agree upon solutions before it escalates to eviction.”
This legislation would award grants to qualifying organizations that provide legal counsel on behalf of Coloradans who have been or are at risk of eviction. Cities like Denver have seen success in similar pilot programs at the local level that slow down the eviction process by giving both sides a chance to resolve matters before going to court and finding solutions short of eviction.
For more information about this legislation, please visit https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb19-180.