Inaccuracies in Eviction Records: Implications for Renters and Researchers

Adam Porton, Ashley Gromis, Matthew Desmond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Administrative court records are increasingly used to study the prevalence of eviction. Yet inaccuracies in court records bias estimates of eviction and distort tenants’ true rental histories. This is the first study to systematically assess the prevalence of inaccuracies across jurisdictions. Drawing on over 3.6 million administrative eviction court records from 12 states, we find that, on average, 22% of eviction records contain ambiguous information on how the case was resolved or falsely represent a tenant’s eviction history. Adjusting for multiple inaccuracies in the data produces significantly different eviction rate estimates. Cases with increased complexity, such as those involving multiple tenants and lawyers, are more likely to contain inaccuracies. However, inaccuracies vary most prominently between states, indicating that state court system characteristics fundamentally shape the official record of the evicted population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHousing Policy Debate
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

Keywords

  • administrative data
  • court records
  • eviction
  • housing policy

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