The Effect of State & Local Laws on Evictions

A congressionally-directed study to investigate evictions as a legal process and the scope of unmet legal needs involving eviction at the state and local level.

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The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has launched a congressionally-directed study to investigate the unmet legal needs surrounding eviction in the United States. This research is particularly timely as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the lives and financial security of people across the country. This study will focus on evictions as a legal process and identify the scope of unmet legal needs involving eviction at the State and local level. The study will employ a multi-site, comparative approach to explore how variations in evictions laws and legal services effect the prevalence of evictions at the local level. The collective findings from these initiatives and associated research briefs will shed light on the eviction crisis and will empower legal aid providers with the information required to better serve their clients. The project will conclude in 2023 with a final report and rollout.

Project Components
Eviction Laws Database

Little is known about the ways in which state and local affect the likelihood of evictions at the local level. In order to analyze this relationship, LSC partnered with the Center for Public Health Law Research (CPHLR) at Temple University to construct a comprehensive database of laws and procedures that govern the legal eviction process. The database includes information from all fifty states, DC, Puerto Rico and the outer lying territories and serves as a critical resource for research and advocacy. In addition to state-level data, the project gathered information about variations in laws and procedures below the state level, in 30 locales. Selection factors for this part of the project included variability in local laws and procedures, areas with high rates of eviction, variations in the availability of local advocates, among others. After the conclusion of this study, laws data will be updated and expanded upon as part of LSC’s Civil Court Data Initiative.

Understanding Court Processes for Eviction Matters

Matt Desmond and his colleagues at Princeton University’s Eviction Lab have done a great deal to raise awareness about the number of eviction filed in state courts and the number of final eviction orders. But there are many steps in the legal process that occur between these two important milestones. Unfortunately, the court process for eviction matters has received limited scholarly attention because of the difficulty in accessing case-level data from state courts. LSC’s State Court Civil Data Project provides a unique opportunity to leverage millions of case records to understand how eviction actions are managed in hundreds of local courts across the country. These data will be used to examine the parties involved in eviction matters, how the eviction legal process varies across jurisdictions, the rates and effectiveness of legal representation, and other important trends. The data are captured in near-real time and will provide actionable insights for legal service providers, court managers and policymakers.

Identifying Effective Legal Service Interventions for Evictions

Understanding the range of legal service interventions that are available to low income individuals and families is a critical step to developing strategies that increase access to services. Through the use of national surveys, interviews and field work, LSC will catalog eviction legal services at the state level, highlight innovative approaches to resolve landlord/tenant disputes, and identify effective practices for measuring and monitoring performance of legal services. Special attention will be paid to strategies that increase the participation of private attorneys to provide pro bono services in eviction matters.

meetings with scales of justice

Meet the Advisory Board

The Advisory Board includes diverse representation from a variety of fields: housing advocacy, social science research, access to justice, legal research, court representation, landlord advocacy, the LSC board, and LSC grantees.

Download Files

Title of File or Publication Size Format
2023-07 Cost to Provide Representation to Low-Income Tenants Facing Eviction Memo.pdf 825.11kb PDF Download
2023-05 Breaking Down Barriers - Promising Programs and Initiatives to Reduce Evictions.pdf 1.57mb PDF Download
2022-04 Effective Volunteer Partnerships - The Critical Role of Pro Bono.pdf 1.70mb PDF Download
2021-11 Fast & Cheap - PDF version.pdf 2.09mb PDF Download
2021-09 Eviction Court Data Analysis.pdf 1.25mb PDF Download
2021-06 On the Brink of Eviction - Trends in Filings Under State and Federal Moratoria.pdf 1.13mb PDF Download
2021-01 A Common Story - The Eviction Process in Shelby County, TN - LSC.pdf 1.11mb PDF Download

Contact Us

For questions or comments about our research please contact Holly Stevens.