New Indiana case code tracking evictions as data shows impact of moratoriums

A new code in Indiana’s case numbering system will enable the courts, state agencies and other entities to track and tally the petitions filed for evictions.

Previously, the state’s eviction petitions were logged under the code either for civil collection, CC, or small claims, SC. The imprecise case citations made it almost impossible to determine how many evictions cases were coming before the courts.

In an order from the Indiana Supreme Court issued last month, the uniform case numbering system was changed to include the new code, EV, for evictions.

The new code shall be used starting Jan. 1, 2021, for residential and commercial evictions, including claims for related damages, according to the order. However, other landlord-tenant disputes such as damages without request for eviction, suits regarding habitability and other contract breaches shall, depending on the amount in controversy, will continue to be filed using the small claims and civil collection case types.

Coming on the heels of the new case code is an updated analysis of the eviction data that is available in Indiana. The Eviction Lab based at Princeton University is offering fresh data from five states and 27 cities. Indiana is among the states, and Indianapolis and South Bend are among the cities being tracked by the lab.

The Hoosier state has tallied 26,561 eviction filings from March 15, 2020, to Jan. 10, 2021, according to the lab. That outpaces the four other states being tracked – Connecticut, Delaware Minnesota and Missouri – with Missouri coming in a distant second at 16,068 filings.

For the same period, 8,963 evictions have been filed in Indianapolis and 802 filed in South Bend. Of the other cities the lab is focused on, New York has the most eviction filings at 39,639 while Minneapolis-Saint Paul has the least, 432.

The monthly and weekly data for Indiana from the Eviction Lab clearly shows the impact of the eviction moratoriums that were issued as part of the response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

In March, when Gov. Eric Holcomb signed Indiana’s moratorium, eviction petitions dropped 41% from the average. Filings bottomed out in April with a 97% decrease from the average and remained low until the hold on evictions expired in August.

The last week the moratorium was in place, Aug 9 through Aug. 16, the number of eviction petitions filed totaled 434. The following week, Aug. 16 through 23, when the moratorium had ended, filings spiked to 2,775.

Subsequently, a moratorium called for by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention effective Sept. 4 somewhat depressed filings. Eviction petitions in Indiana dropped from 1,475 filed during the week of Aug. 30 through Sept. 6 to 950 filed the week of Sept. 6 through Sept. 13. On the whole, eviction filings were down 31% from the average in both October and November and 23% in December.

The CDC moratorium is set to expire Jan. 31, 2021.

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