Sheriff’s deputies will break down a door if no one answers when they come to evict and the landlord doesn’t have keys. Credit: Maya Dukmasova

A new database of Chicago eviction records published by the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing shows that between 2010 and 2017, on average, 79.8 percent of landlords in eviction court had a lawyer, while only 11.2 percent of tenants did. (This confirms the Reader‘s prior independent reporting on landlord and tenant representation.)

Overall, 60 percent of the eviction cases filed end with a judgment against a tenant, but when tenants have legal representation their chances of staying housed increase substantially: 17 percent fewer tenants with attorneys get evicted than those without. And the type of attorney tenants hire matters too. While about half of tenants who hire a private attorney end up being evicted, only a quarter of those represented by free legal aid lawyers do. Though they achieve better case outcomes for tenants, on average, legal aid attorneys—usually from nonprofit organizations that handle a wide variety of civil and criminal cases—appeared in fewer than 475 eviction cases per year between 2010 and 2017. In that period, the number of cases in which legal aid lawyers appeared dropped by nearly 60 percent. LCBH is among the Chicago-based organizations that provide free legal advice and lawyers to tenants. Others include:

Focus on tenants with housing subsidies such as Section 8 vouchers

Cabrini Green Legal Aid
Focus on evictions arising from allegations of criminal activity

Access Living
Focus on tenants with disabilities

Center for Disability and Elder Law
Focus on tenants with disabilities and seniors

Metropolitan Family Services (Legal Aid Society)
Represents low-income tenants

Uptown People’s Law Center
Focus on formerly incarcerated and north side tenants

Chicago Volunteer Legal Services
Also represents low-income landlords

Center for Conflict Resolution
Free mediation services for tenants and landlords

Coordinated Advice & Referral Program for Legal Services (CARPLS)
Free legal advice desk at the Daley Center and by phone at 312-738-9200

Metropolitan Tenants Organization
Tenants’ rights hotline at 773-292-4988    v