In a typical year, 3.6 million formal evictions are filed, according to the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. Many more informal evictions likely occur. According to AARP/Statista analysis of Census Bureau data, an estimated 410,874 older adults age 55 and older are expected to be evicted in 2023.
Evictions disproportionately affect communities of color and women. Black and Hispanic/Latino renters, particularly women, are at greater risk for eviction than white renters with similar characteristics. Although Black people make up only one-fifth of all U.S. renters, they constitute one-third of renters who are evicted. Black and Hispanic/Latino renters are also more likely to be targeted with serial eviction filings—repeated filings against the same individuals at the same address.
Evictions are a core reason that renters experience housing instability. They are extremely disruptive and cause severe, life-altering economic, social, and health impacts. They can directly lead to homelessness and can make it more difficult to get or maintain a job. Eviction diversion programs that encourage or require proprietors and tenants to negotiate with one another can help avoid unnecessary evictions. In addition, policies that require just cause to evict a tenant, ensure due process rights for tenants, and provide tenants with access to counsel are associated with lower evictions and greater housing stability. Nationwide, 90 percent of tenants lack counsel in eviction proceedings, compared with just 10 percent of proprietors.
A public record of eviction makes it markedly more difficult to secure stable, affordable rental housing moving forward. In some jurisdictions, an eviction appears in the public records as soon as it is filed. And it sometimes can remain even if the case is resolved in favor of the tenant. As such, best practices for eviction records include sealing the records. This way it is blocked from public view unless and until a judgment is entered in favor of the proprietor. Even when the proprietor prevails in an eviction proceeding, it is important to have an automatic process for expunging eviction records after a reasonable period of time has passed (just as foreclosures and bankruptcies are eventually removed from a consumer’s credit report). This will ensure that, over the long term, renters who have experienced a bona fide eviction once again have the opportunity to obtain stable and affordable housing. For example, DC expunges eviction records after three years.
Policymakers should take steps to prevent unnecessary evictions. This includes:
- expanding emergency rental-assistance programs,
- creating and funding eviction diversion programs,
- requiring just cause to initiate an eviction proceeding,
- ensuring due process rights for tenants, and
- providing access to counsel for tenants with low and moderate incomes (see also Legal services).
Policymakers should publicly track eviction proceedings and outcomes while protecting individual privacy in order to allow local governments to tailor policies that can help prevent unnecessary evictions. In addition, researchers should study informal evictions that occur outside the judicial system.
Policymakers should create and fund programs to help renters who are evicted secure housing.
Eviction records should be sealed unless and until an eviction case is resolved in favor of the proprietor. Eviction records should be automatically expunged after a reasonable period of time has elapsed.