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SC lawyers offer free legal aid to those facing eviction due to COVID-19

South Carolina Bar, SC Legal Services set up a hotline to deal with housing questions brought about by coronavirus pandemic

COLUMBIA, S.C. — If you are facing eviction or have housing questions or concerns brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, lawyers in South Carolina want you to be aware of where you can turn for assistance.

The South Carolina Bar and South Carolina Legal Aid have set up a hotline for those needing housing-related legal assistance at 1-833-958-2266 -- toll-free any time.

Callers to the hotline are asked to leave a brief message that includes

  • some details on the assistance needed
  • your contact information
  • the best time of day to receive a return call

Qualified callers 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.

Legal services can produce successful outcomes 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.

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.”

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.