The Louisville Eviction Lab (LEL) is a collective research effort between housing organizer-researchers and residents who are fighting poverty and housing insecurity in Louisville, Kentucky. We create resources for a public pedagogy and praxis that support base building activities to collectivize tenant's struggles against state and private control over poor communities in Kentucky. We will provide quarterly updates about the state of eviction in Louisville, with the goal of developing a statewide database.
Our hope is that through this data analysis, we begin a radical reimagining of a Kentucky that questions the violent and extractive nature of rent, begin to see property as a form of theft and build a base campaign for tenant power across the state.
Terms & Methodology
On June 24, 2020, the Root Cause Research Center, requested from the Jefferson County Court Office of Research and Statistics a bulk dataset of Forcible Detainer cases disposed in Jefferson County from January 1, 2015 through June 30, 2020; and that this dataset be updated quarterly thereafter for the duration of an MOU between Root Cause Research Center and the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). On July 14.2020, the Root Cause Research Center signed an MOU with the Administrative Office of the Courts in Jefferson County to obtain the Jefferson County Forcible Detainer Case Data.
The Jefferson County Court database, CourtNet, which provides a summary of cases statewide, was queried for cases with the forcible detainer (‘FD’) case type code disposed from January 1, 2015 through the end of the previous quarter in Jefferson County, for the presence of the document codes requested, and for the plaintiff name and the defendant’s address entered in the case.
The entire dataset is to be recompiled each quarter to capture any data related to a prior quarter edited or entered after a prior delivery. Data will be delivered in this format for the duration specified in the Memorandum of Understanding governing the delivery of this dataset. The dataset includes Forcible Detainer cases disposed of in Jefferson County from January 1, 2015 through the end of the previous quarter, including plaintiff names and defendant addresses, and an indication of whether the court documents listed below were filed in each case.
The data we obtained went through a rigorous “cleaning” process, including removing duplicate data entries, geocoding, and making sure that each entry represented a unique household. The court data we received does not disaggregate commercial and residential evictions, so this data includes commercial evictions. However, the court confirmed that commercial evictions make up a very small percentage (less than 5%) of all Louisville evictions.
Eviction filing: After serving a formal eviction notice to the tenant, rental property owners and landlords can then file for eviction with their local courthouse.
Eviction judgment: The eviction filing becomes an eviction judgment once the court hearing sides with the landlord, property owner, or, in rare cases, the renter. Typically, if the renter wins an eviction hearing, the eviction case is dismissed.
A “filing rate” is the ratio of the number of evictions filed in an area over the number of renter-occupied homes in that area. An “eviction rate” is the subset of those homes that received an eviction judgment in which renters were ordered to leave. The filing rate also counts all eviction cases filed in an area, including multiple cases filed against the same address in the same year. But an eviction rate only counts a single address who received an eviction judgment.