Launched in January 2021, the Small Claims/Back Rent Project aims to prevent widespread homelessness by assisting and providing technical support to Legal Services Organizations (LSOs) providing housing and consumer debt legal services to clients. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many tenants were faced with job losses, wage losses and unable to pay their rent. Once the current moratorium on evictions is lifted many landlords will seek to sue tenants in small claims courts to get back rent owed. Unlike general civil litigation cases, individuals defending themselves in small claims court cannot be represented by an attorney, and most are not familiar with the court system or the applicable laws to present their best defense. Low-income renters are at a disadvantage, in danger of becoming homeless, and risk falling into long-term debt based on the outcome of their case in a small claims court.
As a result of discussions among a working group of concerned LSOs, the OneJustice Small Claims/Back Rent Project developed a Small Claims/Back Rent Clinic Toolkit.
About the Small Claims/Back Rent Toolkit
The Toolkit will be utilized by LSOs assisting tenants who have been sued or may be sued for back rent owed in small claims court. The toolkit is designed to assist LSOs in preparing tenants to present the best defense possible in their small claims court hearing. The forms in the Toolkit can be helpful for those developing Know Your Rights clinics.
To download the Small Claims/Back Rent Toolkit,