NLIHC released a new report that provides a descriptive analysis of policies related to new tenant protections and emergency rental assistance (ERA) that have emerged in states and local governments during the ongoing pandemic. In 2021 alone, states and localities passed or implemented over 130 new laws or policies to protect tenants from eviction and keep them stably housed. Some of the most common eviction prevention strategies aim to allow time for tenants to apply for ERA and/or receive ERA assistance before the eviction process is complete. Strategies to delay or pause the eviction process include requiring landlords to apply for ERA before they file for eviction, creating wait periods and safe harbors to allow time for ERA applications to be processed, and issuing eviction stays until ERA payments can be made. The report also details that states and municipalities have implemented new laws banning source-of-income (SOI) discrimination to provide greater tenant support. Prior to the pandemic, approximately 16 states and 90 municipalities had SOI laws in place. In 2021, two states and 11 municipalities passed or began implementing SOI laws, bringing the total number of states and municipalities with active SOI laws to 18 and 101, respectively. NLIHC makes the six recommendations:
- State and local governments should pass tenant protections in all stages of the eviction process to advance housing as a human right.
- States and localities must assess their tenant-protection laws and programs to ensure maximum effectiveness in preventing evictions.
- ERA programs, states, and local courts should develop collaborative partnerships to ensure the successful implementation and enforcement of tenant protections at all stages of the ERA and eviction process.
- State and local courts should centralize eviction filing and outcome data to facilitate access to ERA, enforce existing tenant protections, and track housing stability outcomes for tenants.
- Long-term federal tenant protections, such as source-of-income discrimination laws, “just cause” eviction standards, right to counsel, and sealed eviction legislation, are needed to ensure that all renters – across all jurisdictions – share a basic level of protection.
- A permanent program to provide emergency rental assistance, such as that proposed in the “Eviction Crisis Act,” is needed to ensure housing stability for households that experience financial shocks after the pandemic ends.