Mar 22, 2023 - Real Estate

Eviction filings return to pre-pandemic levels

Eviction filings in Austin
Reproduced from Eviction Lab; Chart: Axios Visuals

Eviction filings in Austin have returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to data from the Eviction Lab.

  • That's a Princeton University project aiming to fill an "information hole in the center of the evictions crisis" by collecting data from court filings and other sources, research specialist Jacob Haas tells Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick.

Driving the news: Sweeping local and national eviction moratoriums helped keep many families in their homes through the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, but with those moratoriums long since over, many Americans are once again exposed to the threat of displacement.

  • That's especially true as high rent prices have renters spending record shares of their paychecks on their monthly housing bills.
  • The eviction crisis tends to disproportionately affect people of color — particularly Black women, says Haas.

What’s happening: Austin averaged 207 eviction filings per week over the four weeks prior to March 4, per the Eviction Lab.

  • That’s up 3.5% over last year and more than seven times higher than the weekly average when pandemic moratoriums were in place.
  • Average weekly eviction filings hovered around 27 during the moratorium period.

Zoom in: Texas lawmakers are considering measures that would offer statewide tenant protections similar to what's being considered in Dallas and already offered in Austin, per the Texas Tribune.

  • The Republican-led Legislature has not signaled urgency for tenant-rights bills, however, per the Tribune.
  • Austin's policy allows landlords to issue a notice to vacate if a tenant owes three or more months of rent, and renters also have a grace period between seven and 30-days instead of the current three-day grace period under Texas law.

Yes, but: Local renter advocates fear that's not enough.

  • Emily Blair, executive vice president of the Austin Apartment Association, told Community Impact that the latest protections didn't do enough to halt evictions.
  • "Payment plans, rental assistance, and other outreach efforts are what kept renters housed," Blair said in an October statement.

Of note: The Eviction Lab notes that its data doesn't capture illegal evictions or cases where renters are effectively forced out by large rent hikes, and it may be undercounting recent evictions due to processing delays.

The bottom line: The Eviction Lab's data set, which includes 34 cities, is the closest thing available to a nationwide evictions database.

  • While the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is working on new data-collection efforts, "there's still no government database nationwide with full coverage," says Haas.
  • That data void makes it all but impossible to adequately track — and therefore address — the problem at scale.

Editor's note: This story has been updated.


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