More often than not, tenants who have a dispute with their landlord or who are facing eviction do not have legal assistance. Even when the stakes are high, most tenants either cannot afford a lawyer or cannot find a lawyer willing to take on their case. However, you might be able to find a willing legal aid lawyer or pro bono lawyer. Here are some suggestions on how to conduct that search.
The information provided on this page is intended to help tenants help themselves. It includes guidance on finding legal (and other) assistance, understanding the law, and asserting rights.
Government agencies and nonprofit organizations are usually the best sources of assistance for tenants. Because most laws that affect tenants are at the state or local level, you’ll likely want to connect with a local resource—preferably one that’s located in your city or county. The resources below are mostly national organizations, but they can often connect you with local resources.
|American Bar Association’s Affordable Legal Services||“Programs to help people of modest means obtain legal help.” A state-by-state list of local legal resources provided by the American Bar Association.|
|Legal Services Corporation||Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. On LSC’s website, you can enter an address or city to find an LSC-funded legal aid organization near you.|
|LawHelp.org||“LawHelp helps people of low and moderate incomes find free legal aid programs in their communities, answers to questions about their legal rights, and forms to help them with their legal problems.”|
|HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agencies||The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sponsors housing counseling agencies throughout the country. Although many agencies on this list focus on providing assistance to homeowners, most either provide counseling to renters as well or can point you in the direction of a local renter-focused agency.|
|National Fair Housing Alliance||The National Fair Housing Alliance works to eliminate housing discrimination and to ensure equal housing opportunity for all people. On its website, you can search for local fair housing resources and find links to legal information.|
|National Disability Rights Network||Provides services to people with disabilities, handling housing problems and many other aspects of community living.|
|RentAssistance||RentAssistance provides a directory of rental assistance agencies and organizations that help tenants pay rent.|
|211.org||211 is a comprehensive source for local social services information. You can contact your local 211 for help with housing, emergency shelter, and paying utility bills, along with almost any other essential need you have.|
|Benefits.gov’s Housing and Public Utilities Assistance||Benefits.gov lists federal housing resources and organizations that can help renters pay for utilities.|
|Just Shelter Community Resources||Just Shelter works to raise awareness of the human cost of the lack of affordable housing in America. Its website has a searchable database of community housing resources.|
|NeighborWorks America’s Network Directory||NeighborWorks is a congressionally chartered and funded nonpartisan nonprofit. Its website has a state-by-state directory of housing organizations it works with.|
|HUD’s Resource Locator||This is a searchable map for finding local affordable housing opportunities, HUD offices, public housing authorities (PHAs), homelessness resources, affordable elderly and special needs housing, and other housing-related resources.|
|National Housing Law Project Resource Center||The National Housing Law Project’s mission is to advance housing justice. Its resource center provides information about federal housing programs and federal housing laws.|
|Volunteers of America||Volunteers of America creates and manages low- and moderate-income housing for the homeless, families with children, the elderly, veterans and their families, and people with physical and mental disabilities.|
|Mercy Housing is a national nonprofit that develops, preserves, and manages program-enriched, affordable housing for a variety of low-income populations.|
|If you believe you have experienced illegal housing discrimination and would like to file a federal complaint, you can do so online through this website. This site also provides information about how to file a federal fair housing complaint by email, phone, and mail.|
|EPA's information for renters about lead-based paint||Federal law requires that before signing a lease for housing built before 1978, renters must receive certain disclosures about lead-based paint. Learn about renters’ rights regarding lead-based paint and get a copy of the disclosures at this website.|
|The Human Society's information for renters with pets||The Humane Society of the United States offers suggestions on finding pet-friendly housing and how to present your pet’s best qualities to a prospective landlord (write a resume!). Includes tips on responding to complaints and your rights if your landlord wants your pet to leave.|
|The National Center for State Courts||Many landlord-tenant disputes are filed in state trial or small claims court. Use this site to find the court that handles landlord-tenant matters near you.|
|National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel||A growing number of areas are passing laws entitling individuals to legal representation in civil matters such as evictions and landlord-tenant disputes. The National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel has a map where you can look up the status of the right to counsel in housing matters where you live.|
|Legal Help for Veterans by the VA's Office of General Counsel||The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a page for legal help for vets, with links to organizations and pro bono attorneys in your state.|
Below you’ll find links to articles and forms for tenants on Nolo.com. You’ll also see links to relevant articles on one of sister sites, Lawyers.com.
Nolo’s state landlord-tenant law charts are comprehensive. They give you:
Click on the links below to access the chart relating to the legal issue you’re facing.
Nolo’s authors and editors have written hundreds of articles relating to tenants’ rights and landlord-tenant law. Here we’ve compiled some of the questions most frequently asked by tenants and linked to our article that answers the question.
Tenants are facing unique challenges due to the pandemic, and information about evictions, eviction bans, and what tenants can and cannot do to assert their rights changing daily. Nolo is continually updating content to reflect the latest developments that affect tenants. Here are some of the key articles on subjects relevant to renters: