No surge in eviction filings in Colorado despite end of federal moratorium

Eviction filings in Colorado last month came in at two-thirds of the level seen in September 2019, despite the end of a federal eviction moratorium in August that allowed landlords greater leeway to take action against tenants behind on the rent, according to the Colorado Apartment Association.

The state recorded 2,498 eviction filings in September, which was 66.3% of the number filed in September 2019. It marked the first full month since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled an eviction moratorium by the Centers for Disease Control unconstitutional.

“Rent payments have remained strong and steady, and eviction lawsuits have been abnormally low throughout the pandemic,” Drew Hamrick, general counsel and senior vice president of government affairs at the apartment association, said in a release. “Colorado’s (eviction) numbers remain well below pre-pandemic levels.”

Eviction filings in September were up from the 2,283 filed in August and at the highest number since January when 2,672 cases were filed. But the volume isn’t anywhere near what some tenant advocacy groups have predicted based on what the Household Pulse Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau was capturing.

Of Colorado households responding in the second half of September, 46.4% reported being behind on a housing payment and concerned about facing eviction or foreclosure in the next two months. The response, however, carried a 19% margin of error.

“Eviction filings are a trailing indicator of rental debt and housing insecurity and as such are not the most reliable data source for who is in debt or not in debt to their landlord and, as such, at risk of eviction,” said Zach Neumann, an attorney who founded the Colorado COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project.

As of Wednesday, the state reports approving 55,094 in pandemic-related housing relief payments worth $176.7 million, which has helped stave off evictions. That federal money has helped an estimated 140,000 people catch up, he said.

But about 15,000 applications, likely representing 38,000 people, have been denied assistance because of missing documents, non-compliance, and other reasons, while thousands more are in process. Those denied applications offer a better way to look at what might be coming in terms of future eviction filings, Neumann said.

Hamrick continues to emphasize that the worst-case eviction scenarios predicted have not and will not materialize, nor will there be Dickensian scenes of a surge in dislocations and homelessness around the holidays.

It takes about three months for an eviction filing to result in the removal of a tenant and that in normal times fewer than one in seven filings ended with law enforcement actually moving someone out of a home or apartment, he said. The lower volume of filings in September means there will be a reduced number of tenants being removed come December.


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