Letters to the Editor: Landlords have attorneys, renters almost always don’t. That’s a recipe for injustice

To the editor: Economist George Zuo clearly does not understand the purpose of renters’ right to counsel, something that 17 cities, four states and one county across the nation already have codified. (“Renting in L.A. could go from bad to worse,” Opinion, Feb. 13)

Zuo prefers instead for the money that would fund renters’ counsel to go directly into the pockets of landlords — a one-sided solution that doesn’t work when many landlords refuse rental assistance because they’d prefer to raise rents. 

A 2019 report by the Los Angeles Right to Counsel Coalition found that 95% of landlords and only 3% of tenants are represented by lawyers in Los Angeles eviction court, a certain recipe for injustice.

Not all nonpayment evictions are valid. Many are pretextual, procedurally invalid or the result of uninhabitable conditions. Right to counsel is about access to justice, racial justice, and homelessness prevention, which is why the city and county of L.A. are investing in the tenant assistance program StayHousedLA.org. 

One thing Zuo got right is the need for good eviction diversion programs, something tenant advocates have been asking the court and city and county officials to discuss for some time. Los Angeles tenants need meaningful access to the justice system.

Barbara Schultz, Los Angeles


The writer manages StayHousedLA.org and is director of housing justice at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.

Article Date: 
Monday, February 19, 2024