An App to Fight the Eviction Crisis
In "legal design labs" at Brigham Young University and the University of Arizona, law students are building software to provide automated legal aid to tenants facing eviction.
Virtually no tenants have legal representation in eviction cases; by contrast, most landlords do. In Utah and Arizona, Kriston Capps reports in CityLab, the process is further weighted by "strict laws" that leave tenants little time to plan a defense after receiving an eviction notice, and the incentive to evict is high: "One-sided laws that favor landlords offer a tempting money-making opportunity for property owners, since even a single day’s stay beyond the terms of a notice can result in triple per-diem rent plus any court costs."
The LawX Lab curriculum is part of a trend toward "legal innovation built on design thinking," Capps writes. In a previous semester, the class at BYU created SoloSuit, an app that helps users respond to debt collection notices; in New York, JustFix.nyc guides tenants through the process of getting repairs for habitability problems.