Technology to Prevent Evictions

Technology can be used to prevent evictions by helping people to improve their communication with their landlords, participate in their court case, track problems, and improve how policies are made and resources are allocated.

What kinds of websites, apps, and other technology tools can help people dealing with an eviction?

Technology can be used to document living conditions, gather evidence, and correspond with landlords.

The Eviction Innovations Team has gathered examples of how tech can be used in eviction prevention work. Explore it below, and let us know if there are other tools to be shared!

Overview of eviction tech

We have categorized some of the most frequent applications of tech in the eviction prevention space. Below you can see specific examples to explore, that go into more detail on how tech can be used to help people facing eviction.

Tech to request living condition repairs

These websites and apps help a tenant correctly make requests of their landlords about improving the condition of their homes. This includes writing request or demand letters, keeping a trail of evidence, and then going to court as needed.

  • JustFix.nyc tech tools for tenants, that provide people with the ability to record problems with their living conditions, write official letters to their landlord, prepare evidence for court hearings, and connect with other tenants who are dealing with similar issues/landlords
  • Dear Landlord (Australia) and Hello Landlord (US) – for tenants to write formal legal letters about problems, and to create a trail of evidence that can be useful in future court actions

Tech to prepare for eviction court

These website tools to help tenants (and advocates) prepare court filings, answers to eviction lawsuits, legal strategies on defenses to use, and scripts to use at hearings

  • MADE self help for eviction in Boston, that lets tenants fill in the Massachusetts eviction response
  • Arizona Eviction Self Help website (Pima County, Arizona), that walks tenants facing eviction through their possible defenses, options, and scripts they can use to communicate their issues

Tech to teach legal rights & process

These websites and chatbots are about eviction prevention through know your rights & court process training. These apps train tenants and landlords on their rights, and how to represent themselves in a legal proceeding

  • Represent online simulation game for self-represented tenants (Northeastern University and local legal aid groups in New England), that prepares tenants for what to expect at housing court 
  • Rentervention chatbot (Chicago), that lets tenants chat with an interactive, pre-programmed system to learn their rights and legal options based on their scenario

Tech to track housing violations

These data-driven tech projects identify poor living conditions and help inspectors with understanding where to focus resources. This includes where there are needs for improving housing conditions, predicting possible future evictions, and getting more resources to places with more landlord-tenant legal issues.

  • Heat Seek NYC/GotHeat that use a low-cost temperature sensor system to identify buildings that have problems with heat. This might allow for easier ways to verify tenants’ complaints, document problems, and direct inspection resources. GotHeat also has a data strategy, of data sets of housing at risk for heating problems to find likely targets for inspection.
  • Data-Driven Inspections in San Jose, in which the city’s Code Enforcement Office prioritizes its inspection strategy based on a data model developed to be more precise at finding likely housing code violations. The model looks at the amount of time since past violations; presence of previous violations; absence of recent building permits; nearby violation rates; and other factors. This was built with fellows from the group Data Science for Social Good, and Univ. of Chicago’s Center for Data Science and Public Policy (see their final summary).
  • DC Housing Inspection Algorithms, in which the city’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs has changed its inspection model of rental housing based on a collaboration with Georgetown University data science students, to develop an algorithm that better targets the inspections + be more proactive in finding violations. See more on this work in DC, with this pdf report.

Tech to inform policy

This website uses data to cost out an eviction, to measure what the cost to the government and neighbors is when an eviction happens.

Eviction Prevention Tech posts

  • Eviction Data Tracker in the Atlanta Region
    A coalition of the federal reserve, Georgia Tech, and a regional commission established a detailed eviction data tracker to understand what is happening with eviction court case filings.
  • Texting tenants immediately after lawsuit is filed
    Courts, legal aid groups, and diversion programs are using text messages to send reminders, referrals, and encouragement to tenants to participate in court and avoid eviction
  • Data tracking evictions in Milwaukee
    The Track Milwaukee Evictions website has gathered data about local eviction filings, court outcomes, neighborhood risk, and housing code violations. They present the data fields & visualizations to show how the eviction system works locally — and who is most at risk.
  • ERAP smart digital system in Philadelphia
    In Philadelphia, the housing team has used federal funds to build a smarter, more flexible technical system to improve their ERAP applications.
  • Eviction Legal Helpline in Virginia
    The Eviction Legal Helpline provides Virginian tenants with advice, information, and referrals. It works via phone and emails.
  • RePresent tenant education games in Connecticut & Maine
    RePresent: Renter is a mobile phone game that users can download and play in order to learn how to defend themselves against an eviction. It is currently available in Connecticut and Maine.
  • Website connecting tenants with free attorneys in NYC
    The Eviction Free NYC website helps connect people with free legal help. Any tenant in NYC who is facing eviction can go to the website to determine if they are eligible for Right to Counsel and learn how they can access a free attorney.
  • COVID-19 Eviction Forms
    How can a person get protected under the national eviction moratorium during COVID-19? They need to fill in a Declaration document, as well as making sure they fit the requirements the CDC has laid out. This online tool, COVID-19 Eviction Forms, leads people through this Declaration drafting.
  • Eviction Legal Help FAQ site for COVID-19 renters’ rights
    The national eviction help and renters’ rights FAQ site coordinates plain-language explanations of emergency COVID-19 protections for renters. It also presents them with local legal and financial assistance they can use. Can I be evicted? What if I can’t pay my rent because of COVID? Who can help me cover my housing costs? This FAQ site is designed to get these local answers featured more prominently on search engines and elsewhere online.
  • Letter Writer with Local Law for Tenants during COVID-19
    A national letter-writing tool for tenants, that integrates local law — during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenants can use the tool to write a letter that protects their rights and documents their issues — and also send the letter to the landlord.
  • Letter-writer for COVID-19 emergency in LA
    A letter-writing tool to generate an official notice that a tenant can’t pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure the landlord is given proper notice.
  • Eviction Cost Calculator
    The I4J Lab at University of Arizona has created a Cost of Eviction Calculator. This tool can help policy-makers, service-providers, and others to determine what the financial cost of an eviction is to their community.
  • Eviction Data Portal in Chicago
    The Chicago Evictions data portal is a resource to help policy makers, community groups and others investigate Chicago’s chronic eviction problem.
  • Eviction Prevention Letter-Writer, Hello Landlord
    Hello Landlord is a program developed by LawX and SixFifty to resolve rental issues before eviction takes place. The program helps tenants write a letter to their landlord if they have missed rent or need a repairs to their apartment.
  • Online Legal Self-Help in Boston
    MADE is an online tool to let tenants produce eviction pleadings if they are facing a lawsuit. It helps replace a 4 hour clinic that a legal aid group runs to help tenants respond to evictions.