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Louisville housing advocacy group studies landlords’ perspectives in eviction report

Stock photo of an eviction notice. A Moody’s Analytics report that late last year found that local house prices were inflated by 15%.
Stock photo of an eviction notice. A Moody’s Analytics report that late last year found that local house prices were inflated by 15%.

A new study details Louisville landlord attitudes toward evictions, and it comes as some fear a city eviction crisis is on the way.

The findings show that local landlords have mixed feelings on topics such as dispute resolutions and the scale of eviction issues. They also indicate that the property owners have varied opinions on how to prevent evictions from happening.

The report was released on Tuesday by the Metropolitan Housing Coalition, a local research and advocacy group. MHC commissioned the project, while JPMorgan Chase, a major home loans provider, funded it.

Tony Curtis, MHC’s executive director, said at a press conference that the report offers an under-researched perspective on the issue of eviction.

“By focusing on the landlord, the property owner, rather than on the renter, this project challenges the point at which change can happen and reframes the discussion about how to best prevent evictions in Louisville,” Curtis said.

An analysis by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting in 2018 found that evictions in Louisville were most common in the western half of the city, which had higher rates of people of color and poverty. It also showed populations decreased and poverty increased in areas with higher eviction rates than the city’s average.

The study’s researchers reached out to landlords of Louisville properties, getting 11 interviews and more than 200 survey responses.

Survey respondents on average said they would be willing to participate in a landlord-tenant mediation program, which can be used to handle disputes. But there were just as many landlords who selected “strongly disagree” as there were in the “strongly agree” category.

Respondents leaned toward disagreeing with the idea that eviction is a social problem, with more than a quarter answering that they strongly disagreed.

The survey also showed:

  • About 36% of respondents said they owned more than 25 property units, while 22% reported owning four or fewer units.
  • About 26% of respondents said they employed a property manager.
  • More than 60% of respondents said they either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the CDC’s health-based reasoning to put a moratorium on evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, which ended in 2021.

In interviews, landlords provided more detailed answers, discussing several solutions to preventing evictions. Some put the onus on the renter and said improved financial literacy was necessary, others said restricting a landlord’s power to hike rent and evict tenants was important.

Rent control is currently prohibited in Kentucky.

Jamar Wheeler leads the local research firm Kiaspo and is the report’s main author. He said the group was not able to interview any landlords with a large number of properties, and that research shows those property owners file evictions at higher rates than others.

“I think when a landlord operation experiences the pain of eviction, then you have an opportunity to really have a mediating conversation. But if you’re a large operation and you don’t really feel that pinch of that eviction process, then you’re more likely to go through with processing evictions on a larger scale,” Wheeler said.

In some cases, having a small-scale landlord may benefit struggling renters. Interviews with such landlords in Philadelphia found that many avoided pursuing evictions for long-time tenants whom they formed bonds with.

He also said the landlords the team interviewed, who owned fewer properties, reported that they tried to avoid pursuing formal evictions.

MHC has pushed for several city policy recommendations to lower the number of evictions in Louisville. That includes providing low-income tenants with subsidies to cover rental costs, as well as preventing landlords from eviction renters solely because a lease is expiring.

During the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Louisville Metro utilized federal aid to prevent more than 42,000 households from being evicted, according to the city’s Louisville Office of Resilience and Community Services.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.

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