By mid-2021, more than seven million U.S. adults lived in households that were behind on rent payments.
The current challenge for housing directors is at a scale never seen before. As federal mandates and funding programs end, millions of people could face evictions in the US. The demand on city leaders to manage this massive volume (presumably all at once) will be unprecedented.
While the impending eviction crisis may be a hot topic right now, effectively managing evictions will always be important for building stable communities. Eviction management programs (EMPs) that help communities carefully navigate the balance between the rights of tenants and property owners are the answer now and in the future.
Cause & Effect: How the Eviction Crisis Came To Be
At a macro level, evictions are often driven by basic supply and demand concepts. When there’s a shortage of properties in a local market, rent prices increase and, inevitably, so does the number of evictions.
Most evictions are caused by the tenant being unable to pay rent. There are several reasons why tenants are unable to pay rent at this time and likely in the near future:
- The pandemic-related economic downturn resulted in the loss of jobs and hence, tenants’ incomes.
- The pandemic-related eviction moratorium resulted in a backlog of both good-faith evictions and normal evictions due to a lack of rent payments.
- Current inflation is putting additional strain on tenants to make ends meet and pressure on property owners to increase rent to keep up with costs.
- During the pandemic, many tenants and property owners received funds to offset rent loss through rental assistance programs. In many cases, tenants diverted some or all of their rent budgets to other uses. When rental assistance programs cease, tenants may find it difficult to redirect the budgets to rent.
The societal impact of mismanaging this crisis would be substantial. The physical and psychological impact of such displacement can be life-altering, especially for children. And these impacts are likely to exacerbate already-problematic disparities between communities of different races and income levels.
The real impact of evictions is human, not economic.
The government must provide a delicate solution for tenants without ignoring the rights of property owners, many of whom have also faced financial hardships during the pandemic. Eviction management is an imperfect process, but when done well, it can limit homelessness, forced relocation, and even help maintain a thriving local business environment.
How Eviction Management Programs (EMPs) Help
Eviction management programs, or EMPs, are a combination of systems and policies a local government uses to monitor and process evictions in their community. The rules that govern evictions in an area are usually a combination of local ordinances and other regulations. EMPs are essentially the programs used to manage and enforce those rules.
In an eviction crisis, EMPs are essential for preventing widespread issues. Problems related to evictions come down to two words: unnoticed and unfair. A successfully managed EMP can help address both.
A lot of evictions simply go unnoticed, so a big job for EMPs is ensuring awareness. EMPs that include systematic collection of eviction data can give housing directors and other city leaders valuable insights into the trends happening in their community. Knowing when evictions occur is the first step to reducing them.
Many evictions are unfair, or “bad-faith.” Strong EMPs help limit bad-faith evictions by making information more accessible for local governments and other involved parties. Importantly, your EMP should provide a channel for tenants and owners to communicate, and all that communication should be documented in case it needs to be accessed later. Without documentation, you can’t know (or prove) if an eviction was fair or unfair.
To reap the full benefits of an eviction management program, it helps to have technology in place to streamline and support it. Without this supporting technology, it can be difficult to gather and analyze data and all too easy to get overwhelmed or behind with managing compliance with your community’s eviction policies.
The Right Technology for Your City’s EMP
To stay on top of the current eviction crisis and help to prevent issues in the future, cities will need more than manual processes and paperwork. They’ll need a robust software platform that automates tasks, streamlines interactions, and provides data-backed insights.
The right technology for your city’s EMP should include case management, workflow management, document management, correspondence management, reporting, and analytics.
An ideal eviction management software solution will empower you to:
These capabilities make eviction-related processes easier for both property owners and tenants.
For property owners, they can easily and quickly register an eviction notice online instead of mailing a paper copy to the city. They can also manage documentation for tenant appeal cases, check the status of appeal cases, and stay updated with the latest eviction ordinances. For tenants, they can appeal an eviction and track the status of an appeal. They can also file complaints against a property owner and find information on active eviction ordinances.
An eviction management solution should be flexible enough to adapt to your unique eviction-related ordinances of today as well as the inevitable changes they’ll undergo in the future. Consider a cloud-based, low-code platform to maximize flexibility while minimizing time and resources for implementation and future maintenance or modifications.
Managing evictions is difficult and will likely continue to get more challenging in the coming months. Get ahead of the projected rush, create an eviction management program supported by the right technology, and you’ll be prepared to serve all your citizens – through this crisis and beyond.
Ready to learn more about finding the right technology for your programs? Start with our free guide to choosing the right technology for tenant protections.