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Eviction diversion programs

August 12, 2020

According to NCSC's 2015 report The Landscape of Civil Litigation in State Courts about 20% of civil cases in the United States involve landlords and tenants. While several states have adopted eviction moratoria (See information on the NCSC Pandemic page www.ncsc.org/pandemic), state court systems are also moving to develop eviction diversion programs.

Generally speaking, an eviction diversion program offers tenants with legal assistance largely supplied by Legal Aid services and financial assistance provided by local governments and nonprofit organizations. Some programs also include financial literacy education for tenants. Programs require the voluntary participation of both landlords and tenants. The focus of these programs is to help tenants and landlords avoid evictions where possible.

Michigan's program was the focus of a June 2020 webinar Handling High Volume Dockets: Spotlight on Eviction Diversion Programs. A video recording of the webinar and the corresponding materials can be found here. Among the findings

  • An existing program in Michigan's 54-A District Court saw declines in the number of formal evictions as well as defaults.
  • Statewide efforts in Michigan were developed and an administrative order issued in June 2020 to give priority treatment for Landlord/Tenant Cases.
  • Lessons can also be learned from the Philadelphia mortgage foreclosure diversion program developed initially in the Great Recession of 2008. The program placed homeowners and their legal aid advocates face-to-face with lenders to work out a resolution to the foreclosures and save their homes.

Another example is the Eviction Diversion Program in the Richmond General District Court (Virginia). The requirements to apply to this program are:

  • An eviction lawsuit has been filed against the tenant
  • No court order has been made in the case
  • Both the tenant and landlord must agree on the total amount due

Does your court have an eviction diversion program? Follow the National Center for State Courts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, and share your expeiences!  For more information, contact Knowledge@ncsc.org or call 800-616-6164.