New eviction laws data reveal striking differences in eviction processes around the country

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The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) launched the LSC Eviction Laws Database today in partnership with the Center for Public Health Law Research. The database is a new online tool that will aid users in better understanding the significant variation in eviction laws across the country and the effect these differences have on eviction outcomes.

The database captures the entire eviction , from pre-filing to post-judgment, in different communities around the country, providing early insights, including:

  • Only four states and Washington, D.C., have 'just cause' statutes requiring landlords to disclose a clearly defined reason for removing a tenant from a rental property. In the vast majority of states, landlords are able to evict the tenant at-will.
  • Only six states—Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Washington—require that eviction summonses include information on how tenants can access legal aid services.
  • The majority of states/territories require that tenants pay a bond in order to appeal an eviction judgment. Those unable to pay cannot appeal.
  • Court fees that landlords must pay to file an eviction vary widely across the country, from as little as $15 in Maryland to as much as $295 in Vermont.

"This database provides a critical foundation for policymakers and researchers to truly understand the patchwork nature and complexity of eviction laws and processes across the country," explained LSC Vice President for Grants Management Lynn A. Jennings.

The database consists of two datasets: the first covers eviction laws, regulations, and court rules that were in effect as of January 1, 2021 in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and eight U.S. territories. The second is a local dataset covering eviction laws, including those at the county and local level, in 30 jurisdictions in effect as of January 1, 2021. These areas were chosen to represent the demographic, socioeconomic and legal differences across the country.

"Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an eviction crisis in the United States, with estimates suggesting landlords across the country filed 3.7 million eviction cases each year— leaving considerable impacts on and well-being in their wake," said Katie Moran-McCabe, JD, Special Projects Manager at the Center for Public Health Law Research. "These datasets open the doors for research to better understand the role eviction laws may play."

This new tool is part of LSC's ongoing The Effect of State & Local Laws on Evictions Study. Congress directed LSC to conduct the study to address concerns about the high rate of evictions in the country and the patchwork nature of local laws and regulations governing the eviction process prior to the emergence of COVID-19. Previous research briefs looked at the impact of different eviction protections offered to renters and examined the entire legal eviction process through the prism of a single jurisdiction in Tennessee.

The Eviction Laws Database complements LSC's Eviction Tracker, another online tool released earlier this month that provides near-real time data on filings pulled from courts across the country.

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