Mapping the Growth of Eviction Record and Tenant Screening Protections
Policies that help prevent eviction records from haunting people for years — such as sealing, expungement, and tenant screening regulations — can go a long way to protect tenants from discrimination and long-term housing insecurity. The map below provides a national view of currently implemented, recently passed, and previously considered sealing, expungement, and tenant screening regulations across the country.
Every year, 3.6 million people across the country experience an eviction filing. Although tenant organizing alongside groundbreaking research brought the national eviction crisis to light and demonstrated the influence an eviction has on long-term housing and economic security, evictions continue to be a prevalent concern for communities around the nation. National data from the Eviction Research Network and the Eviction Lab underscore the crisis and the disproportionate impacts evictions have on Black and Latinx households, and especially Black and Latinx women.
Evictions, however, are not just an episodic life event. Evictions function as a “scarlet E,” given that the filing of an eviction alone — regardless of the outcome of that filing — can follow people for years and lead to a host of negative consequences. One eviction record, no matter how remote in time, can severely limit a person’s ability to access safe, affordable housing.
In recent years, the ability for a tenant to move on from an eviction record, even one that was filed years ago, has become more difficult as landlords employ tenant screening tactics that are ambiguous and often misinformed. Landlords have increasingly relied on third-party tenant screening companies to provide background information on a prospective tenant; this background information usually includes a mix of eviction records, credit history checks, and criminal history checks. Some third-party tenant screening companies even package this information together to provide landlords with an arbitrary score on whether a landlord should or should not lease to an applicant. Tenant screening companies collect information, specifically on eviction records, by scraping publicly available court record databases. Although much of the information that these companies retrieve from court records are incomplete, or even inaccurate in 22 percent of eviction records, the mere presence of an eviction record on a tenant screening report or in public court records can completely derail a prospective tenant’s chances of accessing safe, adequate, and affordable housing opportunities into the long-term future.
Eviction sealing and tenant screening policies are laws or regulations that make it difficult for landlords to use a tenant's eviction history alone as a reason to reject their housing application. These policies are designed to protect renters from being unfairly denied housing due to past eviction records. These policies also aim to prevent discrimination against renters, as eviction records can be used to discriminate against renters who are low income, people of color, or have experienced financial difficulties.
In addition to the map, we are tracking policies and campaigns across the country and maintaining a policy database with key information about the policies and the various elements of that policy that make them unique and strong. Refer to the database below to investigate these policies, and some of their key features, in further detail.
As local and state governments across the country continue to advocate for eviction record and tenant screening protections, PolicyLink is having conversations with community partners who are advancing eviction record and tenant screening protections. We are seeking to learn about the best strategies for passing, enacting, and implementing the strongest protections possible. If you are interested in learning more about the policy scan or if you are aware of a policy that should be incorporated and would like to add it to the map, please fill out this form.