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Tenant protection laws helped cut 2021 evictions in half

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Although twice as many low-income renters were at risk of eviction in 2021 compared with a typical year, eviction filings in were half the historical average.

Research this year from the Eviction Lab shows that government action has successfully kept low-income renters in their homes as the pandemic’s economic impacts drag on.

“For the second year in a row, eviction filings remained well below normal, pre-pandemic levels. The federal government intervened in the eviction crisis in a serious and unprecedented way,” according to the introduction of the Eviction Lab report.

Search to see if your area has new tenant protections

Around the nation, many states, counties, and cities have acted to protect low-income renters in response to the pandemic. Since January of last year, 31 states and 66 local jurisdictions have enacted new tenant protections.

An interactive database has been developed by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) to track these tenant protections. 

Users can search the data to see if there are new tenant protections in their area. There is both an interactive map, and a search bar to show what areas have taken action to protect vulnerable renters.

The interactive map shows the states and local jurisdictions that have enacted tenant protection laws and policies since January, 2021. Users can select a state or city and see a summary of the types of tenant protections that were enacted. 

The summary also shows how many renter households are in the area and how many renters are behind on rent. Other information includes what share of cost-burdened renters received emergency rental assistance.

Users can also look for information with the searchable database. Type in a state, territory, tribe, or local jurisdiction to see what new tenant protections are in place. If you do not see any new protections listed for a specific city, check for your state, territory, or tribe.

New tenant protections help keep millions of renters in their homes

The Eviction Lab has been tracking evictions weekly in 6 states and 31 cities since the beginning of the pandemic. These places are home to one-fourth of all renters in the country. 

In 2021, the Eviction Lab estimates that 1.36 million eviction filings nationwide were prevented by government action. Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, 2020, more than 3 million eviction filings have been avoided.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, 2020, more than 3 million eviction filings have been avoided.

Early in the pandemic, eviction moratoriums played a role in keeping renters safe from eviction. Most eviction moratoriums around the country expired by 2021.

The Eviction Lab credits the continued drop in eviction filings for 2021 primarily to availability of emergency rental assistance and new tenant protections. More renter households received emergency rental assistance in 2021 (3.8 million), than eviction filings in a typical year before the pandemic (3.7 million).

The neighborhoods that saw the greatest drop in eviction filings during the pandemic were those where evictions had been highest before the public health crisis. Far fewer eviction filings have been made against renters in low-income and majority Black neighborhoods than in typical years.

New tenant protections have also played a large role in slowing eviction filings. Tenant protections include things like:

  • Right to counsel
  • Landlord-Tenant mediation
  • Source of Income (SOI) anti-discrimination laws
  • Expunge or seal eviction records
  • Wait or safe harbor periods before eviction
  • Allow payment to stop eviction
  • Eviction legal defense fund

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