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.
This data brief compares eviction patterns in different types of place-based, subsidized housing in New York City and in other cities and jurisdictions across New York State from 2016 to the present. It finds that eviction filing rates are consistently higher in public housing than in other types of subsidized housing. Importantly, the share of eviction filings that result in a warrant of eviction, and the average amount sought per filing is consistently lower in public housing than in other stocks. These facts suggest that many public housing agencies view eviction filings as a strategy to collect back rent.
This analysis identifies and describes the ZIP Codes in New York City and a subsample of New York State that received lower and higher than expected ERAP applications to inform decisions about how to prioritize areas for other interventions and the allocation of any additional ERA funds that may come to New York State in the future. It finds that low-application outlier ZIP Codes had relatively low rates of pre-pandemic eviction filings and unemployment. These results could suggest that low-application outlier ZIP Codes house populations that are more economically stable and less vulnerable to housing instability.