(This op-ed was first published in CNN on January 22, 2021.)
The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed a basic fact of American life: When people unexpectedly lose work or face unforeseen expenses, they can’t pay their rent. What’s worse, they often get evicted as a result. As lawyers who represent low-income tenants, we are used to explaining to our clients the legal insignificance of their economic circumstances, however compelling. Your boss cut your hours? Not relevant. Your car needed a $600 repair? No defense. Your child support check didn’t arrive? Not the landlord’s problem. We tell our clients, “The law doesn’t care about that.” We usually follow up with, “It doesn’t seem fair, does it?”
(Continue reading the op-ed on CNN’s page here.)
Juliet Brodie is a professor of law at Stanford Law School and director of its Community Law Clinic, where she represents low-income tenants in eviction cases. Larisa Bowman is a visiting associate professor at the University of Iowa’s College of Law and previously practiced eviction defense at a legal services organization in New York City.