Philadelphia Eviction System

This is part of our strategic overview of how eviction systems could be improved in different jurisdictions. 

If you have additional information to include here, please be in touch at mdhagan [at] stanford [dot] edu

Services provided through the PEPP network

  • Website: to provide resources, information, and videos for tenants about their rights
  • Tenant Hotline – live support and referrals to legal services 
  • Lawyer of the Day – free, same day representation to income-eligible tenants on the day of their eviction hearing at Municipal Court
  • Court Navigators – professionals to explain the process, provide resources and offer neutral information at Municipal Court
  • Tenant Help Center – speak with legal staff at the 10th floor of Municipal Court 
  • Tenant Rights Workshops – learn about your rights and responsibilities with Tenant Union Representative Network staff
  • Financial Counseling – meet with Clarifi financial counselor at Municipal Court 
  • Pro Bono Representation – free representation to income-eligible tenants from private pro bono attorneys working with Philadelphia VIP.

These are taken from the June 2018 report from the Mayor’s Taskforce, see below.

In 2017 there were 24,000 eviction filings (not including illegal evictions). That is one out of 14 renter households.

Most of these evictions are for non-payment of rent.

Do people in the system have lawyers?

In 74% of cases, only the landlord had a lawyer representing them — the tenant did not have a lawyer

In 7% of cases, both landlord and tenant had a lawyer

In 17% of cases, neither landlord nor tenant had a lawyer

How are the court cases resolved?

26% of cases are withdrawn before going to court

36% end in Judgment by Agreement (like a settlement)

33% end in Default (the tenant didn’t participate and a judgment is entered against them)

4.4% end in Judgment by Court (with the case going to trial)

Who is being evicted, and what are the consequences?

Low-income renters are more likely to face eviction

Black households are more likely than white ones to face eviction

Most people forced to move are households headed by black women with children, and those with low educational attainment

20% of people coming to homeless shelters report eviction as the precipitating reason

Committee on Empowerment and Opportunity in the Mayor’s Office

Working to combat poverty in our city, help Philadelphia’s low-income residents realize economic security, and move into the middle class.

Philadelphia Eviction Prevention Project (PEPP)

In 2017, City Council, the Mayor and legal services agencies partnered to create the Philadelphia Eviction Prevention Project (PEPP), an innovative project to assist tenants facing eviction through legal representation, financial counseling, a live hotline, a court help center, community trainings & educational materials. Community Legal Services leads PEPP in collaboration with Clarifi, Legal Clinic for the Disabled, SeniorLAW Center, TURN, & Philadelphia VIP.

Reinvestment Fund in Philadelphia

The Reinvestment Fund, which works on policy analysis, strategy, and investment in communities, has been working on a multi-year research project in Philadelphia. They are using quantitative and qualitative methods to understand how the system functions now, how tenants and landlords proceed through it, and what kinds of interventions might be possible.

Philadelphia Bar Association’s Civil Gideon and Access to Justice Task Force

The mission of the Task Force is to investigate and consider all aspects of an effective system of civil Gideon in Philadelphia, including the development of concrete and practicable proposals to advance the implementation of a civil right to counsel in those areas of adversarial civil proceedings where basic human needs are at stake. This web site was developed in 2010 to further the mission of the Task Force to educate the legal and public community about the need for civil Gideon in these critical matters. In 2014, the Task Force changed its name to the “Civil Gideon and Access to Justice Task Force” to reflect its strategic goals to promote the right to counsel in civil cases involving basic human needs in the long term and address the growing civil justice gap and access to justice issues in the short term.

Read the June 2018 report from Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Office’s Taskforce on Eviction Prevention and Response, which has recommendations for innovation.


The Reinvestment fund has a Policy Brief from January 2017 on Evictions in Philadelphia, with stats on the status quo of the eviction system.


Read the report from the Philadelphia Bar and Stout Consulting on the Return on Investment of Providing Counsel in Philadelphia Eviction Cases for Low- Income Tenants, from November 2018.

This is part of our strategic overview of how eviction systems could be improved in different jurisdictions. 

If you have additional information to include here, please be in touch at mdhagan [at] stanford [dot] edu