Princeton University’s Eviction Lab released its nationwide data on evictions last week, and the results are surprisingly promising for Seattle: Within the city limits, the eviction rate has fallen from from .65 percent of all renter-occupied households in 2000 to just 0.22 percent in 2016. Landlords filing for eviction has gone down, too, although not quite as dramatically: 1.24 percent has fallen by about half to .63 percent.
This means that not only are landlords filing for eviction less often, but eviction orders are being granted at a lower rate; about half of eviction filings resulted in an order in 2000 compared to a third in 2016.
There are a few caveats and pieces of bad news here, though: First, the Eviction Lab suspects Washington State data is lower than reality based on their calculations of other areas. And it doesn’t mean things are easy for renters in Seattle, either, with the rate of rent-burden—those who spend more than a third of their income on rent—rising 2 percent in the same time period.
The report, the Lab notes, also doesn’t include “informal evictions”—things like illegal lockouts or a landlord paying a tenant to leave—or people who are priced out and leave without a court order. Still, with 371 court-ordered evictions in 2016, the city is evicting about one household per day through the legal system alone.
The court-ordered eviction rate has also dropped in King County, although not as dramatically, dropping from 1.06 percent in 2000 to .41 percent in 2016. The city and the county are both lower than the national rate, which has wavered between 2.34 percent and 3.11 percent during that time period.
Seattle may be lower than the national average—and falling—for a couple of reasons. We’ve had both just cause eviction laws and notice of rental increase laws on the books for decades. Seattle has also passed a number of laws barring discrimination in rental housing, ranging from source of income to, more recently, whether or not a tenant or potential tenant has a criminal record.
- We’re unpacking America’s eviction crisis. [Eviction Lab]