The California Apartment Association has urged the state Legislature to stop providing funding for defense attorneys to help evicted tenants drag out the unlawful-detainer process.
The practice has occured for several years under a state law that CAA believes should expire in 2017.
Under the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act, defense attorneys receive money from the state to represent low-income Californians in a variety of legal areas, from evictions to custody disputes. Since 2011, the Legislature has spent $9.5 million annually on the program in seven areas across the state.
While the concept is laudable, it’s rife with abuse when it comes to fighting evictions.
With money provided under the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act, some lawyers make false claims about property owners who are simply trying to regain possession of their properties from tenants who’ve failed to pay rent.
The most common tactic: Answer an eviction complaint by claiming the unit is substandard. Despite having no proof, tenants often stay put until trial.
Most landlords end up settling because they cannot afford the delays or legal fees associated with such a claim.
Unless the Sargent Shriver Civil Counsel Act is revamped to stop abuses in eviction cases, the California Apartment Association will continue to oppose refunding it next year.