Philly eviction contractors may need licenses to perform lockouts

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City Councilmember Kendra Brooks will introduce legislation on Thursday requiring private security contractors with the Landlord and Tenant Office to be licensed by the city.

Under the Angel Davis Eviction Accountability Bill, these armed contractors will, for the first time, have to complete training to serve the for-profit entity that performs the majority of evictions in the city.

“It is our responsibility as members of City Council to step up to protect the people from the violence of our current system,” said Brooks.

The office came under fire last year following a string of high-profile shootings by deputy landlord-tenant officers. Two of the incidents landed tenants in the hospital, including 36-year-old Angel Davis, who was shot in the head in March during an attempted lockout at a North Philadelphia apartment complex. She was hospitalized in critical condition, but survived the incident.

The shootings led to renewed calls from elected officials and housing advocates to reform the LTO amid a deepening affordable housing crisis. Brooks’ bill is the first legislative effort at the city level.

“Hopefully, no one will have to experience the trauma I have experienced going through the eviction process,” said Davis.

If passed, LTO contractors must complete 189 hours of training to become licensed and perform court-ordered lockouts. By comparison, the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office, the only other entity in the city that conducts evictions, requires its deputies to complete 800 hours of training.

The bill requires training in subjects like:

Cultural diversity
Firearm basics
Crisis intervention
First Aid
Dangerous dogs

“Setting standards in these areas promotes the safety and well-being of everyone involved in evictions. It builds public trust in our businesses and our government,” said City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, who chairs the body’s Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development, and the Homeless.

The measure, which Brooks will introduce during the first regular stated meeting of the new session, includes a six-month compliance period before licenses will be required. Under the bill, contractors will be prohibited from renewing their license if they were involved in a violent incident or used force during an eviction in the year prior to applying.

A spokesperson for the Landlord and Tenant Office declined to comment.

  • January 24, 2024
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