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06/22/2024 12:10 PM
Pennsylvania State Senate
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20230&cosponId=41723
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: November 9, 2023 03:59 PM
From: Senator Nikil Saval and Sen. Judith L. Schwank, Sen. Jay Costa
To: All Senate members
Subject: Limiting Access to Eviction Records
 
Over the past decade, the consequences of eviction have been well documented. Evictions cause housing instability, economic hardship, and further the cycle of poverty. For example, Yale researchers found that people facing eviction were three times more likely to use emergency shelter, and annual incomes of evicted people dropped by $1,300 in the first year after an eviction and $2,400 during the second year.
 
What many people don’t know is that cases of eviction are always recorded, regardless of the result in court. Therefore, even when renters are not ultimately evicted from their home, the records of their previous court cases have similar long-term effects as actual evictions. As detailed in a recent report by Community Legal Services, eviction records negatively affect a person’s credit score and lessen future housing opportunities. Limited in this way, people many times are forced to live in unsafe housing or experience homelessness.
 
Evictions and eviction records are not evenly distributed. Princeton University’s Eviction Lab tracks nationwide eviction data and has found that eviction disproportionately affects specific individuals. According to Eviction Lab data, 59% of people facing eviction are women, the majority of whom are Black and Latino. A recent study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that in at least 17 states, Black female renters had evictions filed against them at double or more than double the rate of white renters.
 
Pennsylvanians deserve eviction laws that recognize this inequality, as well as state policies that protect them against the harmful effects of eviction records. Our legislation provides fairness for Pennsylvania’s renters by establishing procedures for limited access to eviction records. This bill will require courts to seal eviction case files unless and until a renter loses the case in court, at which point the records would be unsealed.
 
The bill would require no additional costs or requirements for landlords or renters, as the courts would be responsible for sealing and unsealing eviction records. This is a companion bill to legislation being introduced in the House by Reps. Smith-Wade-El, Fiedler, Krajewski and Harris.
 
It is time to provide adequate protections for renters in our state. Please join us in protecting Pennsylvania’s renters by supporting this legislation to limit access to eviction records.
 



Introduced as SB1137