Nebraska study reveals lawlessness of evictions, impact of counsel
05/11/2022, Report, Housing - Evictions
A study by the University of Nebraska College of Law of evictions in Lancaster County found a high level of lawlessness where tenants lacked counsel and that that a tenant representation project had stunning results (a summary of the study is also available). The study examined 3,000 court hearings occurring in eviction actions filed between December 2019 and October 2021. Key findings:
- Only 6.8% of the cases filed during the study period were "compliant with all statutorily mandated requirements for bringing an eviction action in Nebraska." Yet at the same time, "Non-compliant eviction actions were allowed to proceed in nearly every instance, and most often (60.8%) resulted in the tenant being displaced from their home." This included over 400 defaults with defective notice.
- Prior to the Tenant Assistance Project, only 2.2% of tenants had counsel, but after TAP, over 95% of tenants who appeared in court were represented.
- Only 2.3% of represented tenants were ordered immediately evicted, compared to 55.3% of unrepresented tenants.
- Where tenants were ordered evicted, representation dropped sheriff involvement from 41.9% to 32.1%, and increased time to move from .5 days to 7 days.
- During TAP's operation, the rate of tenant appearances rose from 18.3% to 43.1%.
Such data will be critical in supporting future statewide right to counsel efforts.
The data release was covered in part by KTMV (CBS 3) and The Reader.