Posted in: Public
South Carolinians facing evictions and housing-related legal issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are encouraged to call a legal assistance hotline sponsored by the South Carolina Bar and South Carolina Legal Services. People may call 1-833-958-2266 toll-free any time.
When connected to the hotline, callers should leave a message providing brief details about the assistance needed along with contact information and the best time of day to receive a return call. Individuals who qualify will be connected to South Carolina Legal Services for assistance or matched with South Carolina lawyers who have volunteered to provide free legal help. Callers should be aware there are some limitations on the legal services available.
Before the pandemic, South Carolina ranked first in the nation in the number of evictions. Moratoriums preventing eviction matters from proceeding have now expired, and because of increased unemployment in recent months, the number of tenants at risk of eviction is expected to rise.
“Evictions have a cascade effect on our communities, often leading to homelessness, health issues, job loss, marital and family issues, and an increase in crime,” said Betsy Goodale, director of the South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program. “However, many evictions – and the effects they have on our society – can be avoided simply by having an attorney advocate for a tenant in the eviction process. A majority of tenants who are represented by counsel in eviction matters have a successful outcome compared to very few when unrepresented.”
A successful outcome can include:
- negotiating a payment plan;
- negotiating a holdover period that gives the tenant time to find other housing; or
- negotiating a resolution that prevents an eviction from appearing on the tenant's record so that they are not hindered when trying to rent in the future.
“Oftentimes, tenants do not realize there are a variety of possible outcomes to an eviction or that free legal assistance is available to help them get to these resolutions,” Goodale said. “Our goal with the hotline is to connect South Carolinians in need with available legal services to increase the likelihood of positive outcomes statewide.”
More information about pandemic-related legal help and resources for emergency rental assistance available to South Carolinians can be found at www.scbar.org/covidhelp.
The South Carolina Bar is a statewide organization dedicated to improving the legal profession, the law and the administration of justice for all South Carolinians. It serves more than 17,000 lawyer members and provides resources to educators and citizens of the Palmetto State. Learn more at www.scbar.org.
South Carolina Legal Services provides free legal assistance in a wide variety of civil (non-criminal) legal matters to eligible low-income residents of South Carolina. Call 1-(888) 346-5592 if you need legal help and learn more at www.sclegal.org.