How States Can Reduce Evictions and Maintain Rental Market Stability

The Effect of State and Local Housing Policies on County-Level Rent and Evictions in the United States
Ashley C. Bradford and W. David Bradford
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Research shows eviction negatively affects health, financial wellness, and overall well-being, but the field is still developing an understanding of how to best prevent evictions in the first place. This study explored then-current state eviction policies and their effects on eviction rates and rental prices.

To do this, they developed a partial equilibrium model, which analyzes the local effects of a policy where it was implemented. Researchers used 2004–17 county-level data on fair market rents and households receiving federal housing assistance from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and ordered evictions and eviction case filings from the Eviction Lab. They also used data on state laws governing landlord-tenant relationships from Every Landlord’s Legal Guide and Every Tenant’s Legal Guide and county-level demographic information from the Health Resources & Services Administration’s Area Health Resource Files.

Key findings
  • State policies designed to mitigate eviction can affect the local rental market and rental costs.
  • Compared with places without protections, counties in states that prohibit landlord retaliation have around 24.0-percentage-points fewer evictions while those that restrict the use of small claims courts have as much as 16.9-percentage-points fewer eviction filings. These policies were more effective at reducing rent and evictions for counties with larger populations of people of color compared with other counties. Polices such as requiring notice to enter a unit, waiting times for lease violation, and fair housing legislation eviction protections weren’t as effective at reducing evictions.
  • Federally funded rental assistance is effective at limiting eviction. HUD’s voucher program was associated with reducing eviction filings by 0.03 percentage points and the Section 8 program was associated with a reduction of 0.3 percentage points.
Policy implications
  • Public policies to limit evictions can prevent long-term costs to both renters (who must find alternative, often lower-quality, housing) and landlords (who may occasionally have their property unoccupied and therefore not producing income).
  • State governments and local HUD housing authorities can use the above strategies to help manage rental housing markets and reduce evictions.