How to Get Free Legal Aid for Protecting Renter's Rights

By Ray Anderson

Renters in need of legal support because of an imminent eviction, landlord neglect or harassment, or any number of other legal difficulties can often take advantage of free legal aid. All but the most serious problems usually can be resolved without expensive litigation. Tenants' rights are protected with increasingly favorable legislation, and free legal aid often can be obtained.

Get Legal Assistance

Document every conversation and all correspondence between yourself and the opposing party. Where practical, send written correspondence by registered mail and keep copies for your records.

Learn the facts about the legal issues and review all available options. Information can be found on the Internet on legal websites. For more detailed answers, or to engage in an initial dialog with an attorney or a paralegal, complete legal website questionnaires for a personal response within 24 to 48 hours.

Contact the local tenant-landlord commission and file an official complaint. They hear grievances and help mediate disputes. Commissions have representatives for landlords, tenants and homeowners without rental properties on their staff who represent their respective constituents in grievances. Wherever possible they negotiate settlements or offer workable solutions.

When a negotiated settlement can't be reached, contact a legal advocate. Paralegal students at local community colleges and law students at universities assist the public with simple legal matters for college credit. For representation in litigation, pro-bono attorneys from local public defender's offices will offer their services to low-income individuals. To qualify for free public defender services, a financial affidavit will commonly be required.

Tenants who don't qualify for free public defender service can take advantage of the free, initial consultation most attorneys offer. Some real estate matters are often resolved in that time.

About the Author

Ray Anderson is a professional freelance writer who was the monthly real estate columnist for the “Northern Virginia” magazine and the weekly business columnist for the Maryland-based “Metropolitan Tribune” newspaper. He has written for internet websites and has developed business literature for different companies. Anderson is a licensed Virginia real estate broker and licensing instructor who studied electrical engineering at the University of Maryland.

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