Characteristics Associated with Renters Who Get Evicted

Characteristics Associated with Renters Who Get Evicted
Matthew Desmond, Carl Gershenson
Social Science Research
Publication Date:
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What factors contribute to the eviction of renters who fall behind on rent payments? Matthew Desmond and Carl Gershenson examine this question by identifying individual, neighborhood, and network characteristics of renters who are evicted, which is defined as formal and informal proceedings initiated by landlords that force tenants to relocate. The authors use the Milwaukee Area Renters Study, which interviewed rental households between 2009 and 2011 about housing, poverty, and urban life, to test possible reasons for eviction at three levels: individual (discrimination and linked misfortunes), neighborhood (gentrification and concentrated disadvantage), and network (upward and downward ties, how much the renter’s friends and family are advantaged or disadvantaged). Using a series of indicators for each test, the authors also controlled for family structure, socioeconomic status, and payment history. The authors consider the policy implications of their findings.

Key findings

  • Family size, socioeconomic factors, race, and rental payment history were individual-level characteristics associated with renters’ likelihood of eviction. Job loss was also a possible predictor.
  • Neighborhoods that were gentrifying or becoming more economically or racially integrated were not linked with increased chances of eviction for renters.
  • Higher neighborhood crime and eviction rates increased the likelihood of eviction for renters.
  • Renters with strong downward ties had a greater chance of eviction, but there was no evidence of strong upward ties decreasing the chances of eviction.