Tag Archive for: Volunteer Lawyers Project

Assistance available to low-income landlords (The Standard Times)

In a February 16 article, The Standard Times highlighted the Volunteer Lawyers Project’s (VLP) Landlord Advocacy program, which is providing free legal assistance to landlords with low incomes in Massachusestts. An excerpt from the article is below.

His tenant had not paid rent for close to a year, and the landlord filed an eviction action based on nonpayment of rent.

On the day of trial, with the help of housing court mediation, and the presence of the Wayfinders group, the landlord and tenant were able to enter into an agreement requiring the tenant to immediately apply for RAFT/financial assistance to cover the full rental arrearage and the case was continued to allow for the tenant to file.

The Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association represented the landlord for his next two court dates.

This case study is one example of the support landlords can receive if they are struggling to collect rent and make mortgage payments.

The statewide advocacy program focusing on the financial well-being of small, low-income landlords who are often elderly, non-native English speakers and/or people of color aims to take the pressure off.

Read the full story in The Standard Times/ South Coast Today.

‘I’m at my wit’s end’: Welcome to the underbelly of the region’s housing crisis (The Boston Globe)

Attorneys Zoe Cronin of Greater Boston Legal Services and Rochelle Jones of the Volunteer Lawyers Project, both pictured above, were featured in a Nov. 12 Boston Globe article for their work representing people in housing court in the aftermath of COVID eviction moratoria expiring.

An excerpt of the article is below.

Criminal court proceedings where the defendant faces possible prison time guarantees the right to a defense lawyer, but there is no such safety net for housing court. This means that many tenants who can’t afford a lawyer are battling potential eviction by taking it upon themselves to duel with polished attorneys representing landlords.The tenants often struggle to navigate the complexities of housing law and courtroom procedure. Louis is one of the lucky ones. She has legal representation: Zoe Cronin from Greater Boston Legal Services.

Many tenants are not so fortunate.

As of the end of October, there were 15,556 residential eviction cases brought this year in Massachusetts for non-payment of rent. Those cases include 21,629 defendants, the vast, vast majority of whom are defending themselves without a hired attorney. (Nearly 97 percent are pro se.) By contrast, only about 12 percent of landlords who bring forward eviction cases do so without a lawyer to represent them, according to statistics from the Massachusetts Trial Court.

Volunteer lawyers help both pro se tenants and landlords craft motions or offer representation during a mediation session, and, in some cases they offer full representation. The “lawyer for a day” program sets up shop outside a bank of courtrooms on the fifth floor. Many tenants, said Rochelle Jones, the housing and appeals staff attorney for the Volunteer Lawyers Project, struggle to articulate and defend themselves, to explain to the court what is happening in their living situation.

“The legal system is complicated, it’s complex,” she said.

Read more in The Boston Globe.