Half the Battle is Just Showing Up: Non-Answers and Default Judgments in Non-Payment Eviction Cases Across New York State
The goal of this brief is to describe the prevalence of tenant non-answers and default judgments, identify trends over time between 2016 and 2022, and explore variation in these rates in jurisdictions across New York State. We focus on non-payment cases (those filed for non-payment of rent) rather than holdover cases (those filed for any other reason, such as lease violations), as the vast majority of eviction filings in New York State are non-payment cases.
We find that answer rates are fairly stable over time, with pre-pandemic answer rates hovering around 50 percent in New York City and 60 percent among other jurisdictions in New York State. (These shares flip in the pandemic period, with higher answer rates in New York City than in other jurisdictions.) However, these averages conceal considerable variation. Many cities have very low rates of unanswered cases, while another sizable set of cities have high rates of unanswered cases. We also find suggestive evidence that the universal access to counsel (UAC) program in New York City may reduce both non-answer rates and the likelihood that a non-answer results in a default judgment.
Cracking Code Enforcement: How Cities Approach Housing Standards
This brief contributes to scholarly and policy debates on code enforcement. It identifies three key dimensions along which code enforcement regimes vary: their relative emphasis on hazards in individual housing units or neighborhood blight; reliance on proactive or reactive triggers for inspection and enforcement; and more cooperative or more punitive approaches to landlord compliance. It then contextualize this variation within the scholarly literature on code enforcement and, drawing from an analysis of forty cities’ code enforcement regimes as well as conversations with key stakeholders, explore how these priorities and approaches are reflected in local governments’ actual code enforcement regimes.
Rent Regulation for the 21st Century: Pairing Anti-Gouging with Targeted Subsidies
Rent regulation is designed to protect low-income renters against sudden rent increases that threaten their housing stability. However, market distortions and the lack of means testing or targeting limit the effectiveness of many rent regulation systems. This policy brief outlines an approach combining anti-gouging regulations with shallow, targeted subsidies to maximize the benefits of rent regulation for low-income households.
How to Address Homelessness: Reflections from Research
In the latest issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Katherine O’Regan, Ingrid Gould Ellen, and Sophie House surveyed existing research–including several articles in the special, homlessness-focused volume of The ANNALS in which their commentary was published–that tackles the question of how to prevent and eradicate homelessness in the United States. The review highlights how new research developments can facilitate a shift towards "upstream," or preventative, homelessness interventions, while making necessary "downstream" emergency services more equitable and effective. With a critical eye toward the creation and perpetuation of racial disparities, the article examines four categories of policy responses: addressing root causes, preventing homelessness, providing services, and facilitating sustained exits from homelessness.
Early Evidence on Eviction Patterns after the rollout of NYC’s Universal Access to Counsel
One of the primary eviction prevention measures jurisdictions across the country have taken is to expand access to free legal counsel for low-income tenants facing eviction. In 2017, New York City became the first jurisdiction to enact “Universal Access to Counsel” (UAC), guaranteeing free legal representation to all low-income tenants facing eviction in the City’s housing courts. Research, however, has yet to rigorously evaluate claims either defending and criticizing UAC. This paper aims to address this gap by examining the effectiveness of legal representation in preventing evictions in the private rental market.
Housing Justice in the Pandemic Age: Recommendations for Safe and Effective Courts During COVID-19
This brief outlines recommendations to inform the “reopening” of New York City housing courts, a term we will use to describe the incremental process of reopening court buildings, permitting new eviction filings, expanding the courts’ dockets, and other aspects of returning to full operations.
Laboratories of Regulation: Understanding the Diversity of Rent Regulation Laws
Debates about rent regulation are not known for their nuance. The world tends to divide into fierce opponents and strong supporters. Moreover, debates rarely engage with the details of local ordinances, even though those details may significantly affect outcomes for tenants, landlords, and broader housing markets. This paper catalogs the multiplicity of choices that local policymakers must make in enacting and implementing rent regulation ordinances and consider the implications those choices may have for tenant protections and broader market outcomes. This paper then highlights the wide variety of regimes that jurisdictions with rent regulation have adopted in practice. It ends with a call for new empirical research to study the effects of different regulatory features.