Harvard Law Review, Harvard Law School, Harvard University
February 1, 2013
In a District Court in Massachusetts, researchers randomly selected tenants facing eviction to receive full representation or limited, unbundled assistance. They find there are better results if tenants were offered full representation. Further, the offer did not increase court burdens.
126 Harvard Law Review 901
Study in a District Court in Massachusetts of tenants facing eviction. Members of a randomly selected treated group were offered a traditional attorney-client relationship from a legal aid provider staff attorney; members of the remaining randomly selected control group received no such offer. The study concluded that an offer of full representation mattered. Approximately two-thirds of tenants in the treated group, versus about one third of tenants in the control group, retained possession of their units at the end of litigation. Treated group tenants received payments or rent waivers worth a net of 9.4 months of rent per case, versus 1.9 months of rent per case in the control group. Although treated cases did take longer to reach judgment, the offer of representation caused no increase in court burden.
Randomized study of 129 tenants facing eviction in a District Court in Massachusetts during a 17 month period. Most tenants received limited assistance when they attended a how-to session including instruction on the summary eviction process as well as help in filling out answer and discovery request forms. After receiving this unbundled assistance, some tenants were offered legal representation and others were not. Of the 129 tenants, 76 were offered representation (97% ended up being represented) and 53 tenants were not offered representation (89% ended up having no representation).
- Approximately two thirds of tenants who received an offer of representation retained possession of their units at the end of litigation, while only one-third of tenants would did not receive an offer of representation retained possession.
- Tenants who received an offer of representation received payments or rent waivers worth a net of 9.4 months of rent per case, versus 1.9 months of rent per case for tenants who did not receive an offer of representation.
- An offer of representation caused the more favorable possession and financial results mentioned above without increasing the burden on the court, beyond an increase in the time needed to reach judgment, which on its own has limited substantive significance.
PUBLICATION DETAILSFormat: Research
Publication Type: Journal Article
Geographic coverage, US: Massachusetts
Topics: Measurement | Research Agenda | Randomized Research
Case type: Housing
Practice Area: Housing
Who Served: Homeless/Housing Insecure
How Provided: Legal Aid Attorneys, Unbundling
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