The Access Gap in Evictions Court

by Kaley LaQuea

While it’s no surprise that rental rates in Denver have continued to climb, one factor usually doesn’t make that association: the price tag of legal representation for those facing eviction.

A forthcoming report on eviction by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy compiled Denver County court data from 2014 to 2016. The sample looks at every eviction case filed by the Denver Housing Authority and from seven private property management companies. The report found that in 100 percent of those cases, a property manager or housing authority had representation, whereas tenants of the housing authority had representation roughly 3 percent of the time. That number fell to about 1 to 2 percent for tenants in private housing depending on the year.

“What this tells us is it’s not a fair playing field in Denver county eviction court,” CCLP attorney Jack Regenbogen said.

The report includes data from the city of Denver stretching back to 2001, though Regenbogen noted that the data is primarily cases occurring between 2008 and 2016. During that period, there were roughly 93,000 cases of eviction, and tenants in about 800 of those cases, roughly 1 percent, had representation in court. Regenbogen said that in cases where a tenant did have a lawyer, their chances of preventing eviction were much higher.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the September 4, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.