The Racially Disparate Influence of Filing Fees on Eviction Rates

Henry Gomory, Douglas S. Massey, James R. Hendrickson, Matthew Desmond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Eviction is a common and consequential event in the lives of tenants and is shaped by the legal environments in which it takes place. In this study, we show that eviction filing fees, or the amounts of money it costs landlords to begin formal evictions, have a large effect on eviction practices. Specifically, fees that are higher by $76 (one standard deviation) lead to lower eviction filing rates by 1.71 percentage points (0.26 standard deviations) and lower eviction judgment rates by 0.49 percentage points (0.19 standard deviation). Filing fees affect not only the rate but also the purpose of filing, as lower fees make landlords more likely to file serially against the same tenants as a form of rent collection. Each of these effects appears to be disproportionately large in majority-Black tracts, suggesting that low filing fees have disparate impacts on Black renters. These findings contribute to our understanding of the legal basis of housing insecurity and the racialization of eviction practices in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1463-1483
Number of pages21
JournalHousing Policy Debate
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


  • Eviction
  • filing fees
  • policy


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