Eviction Filing Rate
Eviction Orders (%)
Representation (%)
Poverty (%)
Race (%)
Back Rent Sought (median)

How Many Evictions Are There?

An eviction may be filed with the court only after a landlord provides notice to the tenant and the tenant does not vacate the unit by the date specified in the notice. Chicago saw an average of more than 23,000 eviction filings per year between 2010 and 2017. Relying on eviction court records alone substantially underreports the number of forced displacements. Court records only provide information on formal evictions. No information is available about the untold number of informal and constructive evictions that occur due to illegal lockouts, denial of essential services, refusal to perform maintenance or repairs, intimidation, unconscionable rent increases, and coercive cash for keys deals. Many other renters are displaced by the city itself in Chicago’s building courts, when rental properties are condemned and vacated due to negligent landlords.

Eviction Filings

The eviction court filing provides the first quantifiable information available on evictions.

The drop in eviction filings is partly due to the decrease in subprime mortgage crisis related foreclosures.

The overtime average is 23,466.

From 2010 to 2017, number of eviction filings decreased by 19.5%.

Rental Units

Rental unit data come from the American Community Survey 5-year estimates.

The overtime average is 609,489.

From 2010 to 2017, rental units increased by 5.7%.

Eviction Filing Rate

The eviction filing rate is the number of eviction filings per 100 rental units.

The drop in the eviction filing rate is partly due to the decrease in subprime mortgage crisis related foreclosures.

The overtime average is 3.9%.

From 2010 to 2017, eviction filing rate decreased by 23.8%.

Sealed Cases

Cases that have been sealed from public viewing.

Except for number and rate of eviction filings, this report does not include sealed cases in calculations.

The overtime average is 9.3%.

From 2010 to 2017, percent of sealed cases increased by 163.7%.

Who Gets Evicted?

Court records don’t provide any demographic information and we haven’t conducted any surveys, interviews, or court monitoring in tandem with this report. To begin exploring the question of who gets evicted, we can look at data from the US Census Bureau to make some inferences based on poverty and racial composition of Chicago’s Community Areas and Wards. Much more research will be needed to fully understand the effects of and interplay between race, poverty, place, presence of children, gender, age, and disability on rates of eviction.

Poverty

People whose income is below the poverty level from the American Community Survey 5-year estimates.

Poverty information is for all people, not just those facing eviction.

The overtime average is 20.9%.

From 2010 to 2017, percent of poverty decreased by 1.9%.

Race

Race data come from the American Community Survey 5-year estimates.

Race information is for all people, not just those facing eviction.

Why Do Evictions Happen?

Most landlords filing for eviction also made claims for back rent, supporting the common belief that most evictions are for non-payment of rent. Eviction case filings do not distinguish between tenants who could not pay their rent and those who legally withheld their rent (for repairs or other allowed reasons). This distinction may only come to light if tenants are able to assert their rights in court. Unfortunately, online court records don’t provide the specific reason for the eviction filing. Beyond the existence of a rent claim or not, the court data provide little help for a deeper look into the reasons for eviction.

Eviction with Back Rent Cases

Eviction with Back Rent cases are those where the landlord is suing for both return of the property and back rent.

The overtime average is 82.2%.

From 2010 to 2017, percent of eviction with back rent cases increased by 4.2%.

Back Rent Sought

The amount the landlord is seeking in damages (back rent).

The overtime average is $1955.

From 2010 to 2017, back rent sought (median) increased by 11.4%.

Rent

Median rent data come from the American Community Survey 5-year estimates.

Median rent information is for all renters, not just those facing eviction.

The overtime average is $957.

From 2010 to 2017, rent (median) increased by 16.3%.

What Happens In Eviction Court?

Eviction cases typically result in tenants losing their homes, and as such, court outcomes are presented here as eviction orders (and are inclusive of an eviction order and/or a money judgment against a tenant). Most tenants receiving eviction orders moved out or were forced out by the sheriff. The outcomes in the other cases were primarily dismissals—with no judgment in either party's favor—though a small number (0.3%) of cases ended with judgments in tenants' favor, but this does not mean tenants got to stay. In our experience, in most dismissals tenants avoided receiving detrimental eviction orders by moving out "voluntarily" before their court date, or as required by a settlement agreement with their landlord.

Eviction Orders

Eviction Orders in this report are inclusive of cases ending in an eviction order and/or a money judgment against a tenant.

The overtime average is 60.2%.

From 2010 to 2017, percent of eviction orders decreased by 2.1%.

Eviction Orders by Default

Cases ending with an eviction order (and/or a money judgment against a tenant) that occurred by default because the tenant did not appear in court.

The overtime average is 13%.

From 2010 to 2017, percent of eviction orders by default decreased by 5.4%.

Eviction Orders at First Time Up

Cases ending with an eviction order (and/or a money judgment against a tenant) that occurred at the tenant's first time in court.

The overtime average is 33.4%.

From 2010 to 2017, percent of eviction orders at first time up decreased by 23.7%.

Does Having An Attorney Matter?

Avoiding an eviction order is only one measure of the benefits of having an attorney. Attorneys assist tenants in asserting their rights as well as negotiating with landlords’ attorneys on the amount of back rent owed and amount of time tenants have to move in order to find replacement housing. Tenants without lawyers – often without knowing their rights – sign agreements they either don’t fully understand or feel pressured to accept in order to avoid what they believe will be an immediate eviction.

Representation

Cases where landlords had attorney representation in comparison to cases where tenants had attorney representation.

On average, the difference in representation was about 69 percentage points.

To put it another way, in Chicago, landlords had attorneys about 616% more often than tenants.

Eviction Orders by Representation

To compare the likelihood of getting eviction order (and/or a money judgment against a tenant), cases are divided into two groups: those where tenants had attorney representation and those without. The percentage of cases ending in an eviction order for both groups is presented.

On average, a Chicago tenant's likelihood of getting an eviction order without an attorney was about 62%

With with an attorney, it was about 45%

Eviction Orders by Default by Representation

To compare the likelihood of getting an eviction order by default, cases are divided into two groups: those where tenants had attorney representation and those without. The percentage of cases ending in an eviction order by default for both groups is presented.

On average, a Chicago tenant's likelihood of getting an eviction order by default without an attorney was about 14%

With with an attorney, it was about 4%

Eviction Orders at First Time Up by Representation

To compare the likelihood of getting an eviction order at first time up, cases are divided into two groups: those where tenants had attorney representation and those without. The percentage of cases ending in an eviction order at first time up for both groups is presented.

On average, a Chicago tenant's likelihood of getting an eviction order at first time up without an attorney was about 37%

With with an attorney, it was about 5%

What About Legal Aid Attorneys?

Legal aid is free legal assistance to lower income people provided by nonprofit legal aid organizations, law schools, court-based services such as self-help centers, and legal information websites. Civil legal aid is "central to our notion of equal justice under the law.” - President Barack Obama.

Attorney Type

Cases by the type of attorney (private or legal aid) tenants had in court.

Due to the low number of tenant attorneys, this section presents actual totals and not percentages.

In Chicago, from 2010 to 2017, private attorney representation increased by 5% and legal aid attorney representation decreased by 59.2%.

Eviction Orders by Attorney Type

To compare the likelihood of getting an eviction order (and/or a money judgment against a tenant), cases are divided into three groups: those where tenants had no attorney, those with private attorneys, and those with legal aid attorneys. The percentage of cases ending in an eviction order for each group is presented.

On average, a Chicago tenant's likelihood of getting an eviction order without an attorney was about 62%.

With a private attorney, it was about 50%.

With a legal aid attorney, it was about 23%.