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As almost all state and federal eviction protections tied to the COVID pandemic have ended, and emergency rental assistance has been slow to roll out or in some places, funding has run out, many local governments are taking steps to protect their residents from displacement, evictions and drastic rent hikes. Financial assistance and programs like Right to Counsel are important eviction prevention strategies–Below are some emerging strategies with resources that may be helpful as you consider further action in your locality.
Good Cause legislation in New York cities
Good Cause Eviction ordinances restrict the reasons landlordWs pursuant to which can evict tenants–whether through housing court or by nonrenewal of lease–to only “good” causes, which typically include: nonpayment of rent, lease violations, or the need for the landlord to use the unit for themselves. These ordinances usually include a presumption that significant rent increases (often defined as above a 3-5% annually) cannot be a good cause to evict tenants.
Members in Albany, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, Kingston, and now Beacon, have passed Good Cause Eviction ordinances. Ithaca, New Paltz, and several other New York localities are currently considering Good Cause Eviction protections.
- Beacon legislation text here and press coverage here.
- Kingston legislation text here and press release here.
How Good Cause Eviction policies can help renters:
- Good Cause would give needed security and stability to tenants. Families would know that as long as they pay their rent on time and comply with their lease they will be able to stay in their homes and communities– avoiding the destabilizing impacts of losing their home, which can range from children having to switch schools, new longer work commutes affecting childcare needs, to protracted searches for housing that can result in homelessness.
- Eviction protections like Good Cause have been shown to reduce evictions. A recent study of four California cities with a similar policy found lower eviction rates and lower eviction filing rates.
- Good Cause Eviction limits property investors’ ability to drastically hike up rents and push out tenants. As recently reported, investors are buying buildings and pushing out long-standing community members, in order to hike rents and maximize profits, which results in rapidly changing communities and destabilizing households that were once stably housed.
Mandatory Eviction Diversion Program, Philadelphia
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Philadelphia created an Eviction Diversion Program, which connects tenants to housing counselors and uses mediation in an effort to achieve resolution without resorting to the eviction process. In 2021, Philadelphia Municipal court issued an emergency order requiring all landlords to apply to the eviction diversion program prior to seeking an eviction. They codified in December 2021 through an ordinance that established this practice, along with a requirement to send tenants a notice informing them of their rights. Learn more about the program here.
How mandatory eviction diversion programs can help renters:
- Eviction diversion can be an effective tool to find agreements between landlords and tenants. Eviction diversion reopens lines of communication and has helped owners and renters reach agreements that they would not or could not on their own. In mediations where the landlord and tenant participated, over 90% resulted in an agreement or an agreement to continue to negotiate.
- Requiring mediation can help tenants avoid eviction filings that have long-reaching impacts. This policy requires landlords to try lower-cost alternatives before escalating to the hardest route possible. A pre-filing resolution is critical for tenants since having an eviction filing on the books can prevent tenants from finding safe and affordable housing in the future, even if the filing does not actually result in an eviction.
Fair Notice Ordinances in Minnesota cities
Fair Notice Ordinances require landlords to provide written notice to tenants prior to filing an eviction for unpaid rent. The notice must include the amount total due, name and address for where the tenant may pay rent, and include a description of how to access legal and financial assistance. The notice period ranges between the different city ordinances– from 7 days in St. Louis Park to 30 days in Brooklyn Center.
- Brooklyn Center legislation text here.
- Minneapolis legislation text here and press release here.
- St. Louis Park legislation text here.
How fair notice ordinances can help renters:
- Tenants should get clear communication so they can avoid eviction. Fair notice ordinances ensure clear communication between landlord and tenant and provide helpful information to tenants on financial assistance to avoid evictions.
- Fair notice can help tenants access emergency assistance. In addition to providing more time for tenants to remedy or make other arrangements prior to an eviction filing, fair notice ordinances also provide tenants with the documentation often needed to apply and receive emergency assistance.
Renter Relocation Policy, Portland
Adopted in 2017 and upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court last November, Portland’s renter relocation policy requires landlords to pay renters’ moving fees if they enact a major rent hike, 10% or more over a one-year period, or issue a no-cause eviction. Payments range between $2,900 and $4,500, depending on the size of the home. Tenants can sue if their landlords don’t follow the rules. Learn more about the policy here.
How a renter relocation policy helps renters:
- Renter relocation policy is a check against unjust evictions and displacement. If a landlord chooses to evict without good cause or significantly raise rents, they will have to provide some financial support to help the tenant find and secure new housing.
- Relocation assistance can help tackle upfront housing costs and help tenants access new housing. Renting households who are displaced will be burdened with the associated costs of moving which can include rental application fees, security deposits, transportation, and temporary storage costs. Relocation assistance can help offset these costs and mitigate one of the barriers to securing new housing.
For more information on these policies or other eviction prevention questions, please contact: D’Ana Pennington, Local Progress Housing Program Manager.