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S.C. Bar hotline offers housing-related legal help

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A hotline sponsored by the South Carolina Bar and South Carolina Legal Services is available to state residents facing evictions or other housing-related legal issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

After dialing the toll-free number, 1-833-958-2266, callers can leave a message providing brief details about the help requested along with contact information. Individuals who qualify for assistance will be connected to South Carolina Legal Services or matched with lawyers who have volunteered to provide free legal help, according to a news release from the S.C. Bar.  

There are limitations on the legal services available, according to the release.  

Pandemic-related state and federal eviction moratoriums have expired, and legal observers expect the number of tenants at risk of eviction 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.”

Legal solutions can include negotiating a payment plan, a holdover period to search for other housing or a resolution that prevents an eviction from appearing on a tenant’s record.  

“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 is available online at www.scbar.org/covidhelp.

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