Tuesday the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved allotting and spending up to $2 million dollars of the federal rental assistance money allocated to Pima County (approximately $31 million) to provide legal counsel for tenants at risk of eviction due to unpaid rent or other material noncompliance of the lease agreement. While we understand the concern over evictions, for nonpayment of rent there are essentially two legal defenses.
- The tenant paid the rent.
- The tenant provided the landlord with notice of a needed repair and deducted the amount of the repair from rent (up to $300).
We are concerned the inclusion of attorneys on some of these cases may lead to delays in evictions, which is part of the goal of providing the funding for tenant attorneys, and will lead to increased costs for all parties. According to a quick Google search is appears the average rent in Pima County (which obviously varies greatly) is approximately $972 per month. This $2 million could have paid this average rent for 2057 months.
We believe the money would have a greater positive impact being applied to unpaid rent and preventing evictions and therefore the need for attorneys. We will keep you posted with updates on what changes if any this has on our process and evictions.