A Year of Evictions - Eviction Analysis for King County in 2019
This data set only represents evictions filed with the courts in King County, not all evictions. An unknown number of tenants may vacate before the eviction is filed with the courts, leaving no record of their eviction. Tenants may also be forced out of their tenancy without court record by landlords engaging in informal eviction methods like illegal lockouts or threats. The number of evictions in King County is likely much greater than the numbers reported here, as the data set does not capture these types of evictions.
In 2019, there were 4,471 evictions filed in King County. On average, that’s 373 evictions filed per month, 86 per week, or 12 per day.
70% of all eviction filings in King County occurred in just five cities – Seattle (26% of filings), Kent (15%), Federal Way (13.4%), Renton (7.8%), and Auburn (7.7%). Of these cities, Kent and Federal Way stand out for having a disproportionately high number of evictions based on their overall number of renter households. Renter households in Kent make up just 5.2% of King County’s total number of renter households, but 15% of the county’s evictions. Federal Way is home to 4.1% of the county’s renter households, but represents 13.4% of the county’s evictions. Renton and Auburn are also overrepresented, representing 4.9% and 3.2% of the county’s renter households, respectively, but 7.8% and 7.7% of the county’s total evictions.
The vast majority of evictions are based on nonpayment of rent (87.5%). Second to nonpayment are evictions based on no-cause terminations or expired leases, which account for 35% of all evictions not about nonpayment. Following no-cause evictions, lease violations are the third most frequent basis for eviction (31.6% of all evictions not about nonpayment).
Court records to do not include racial demographics of defendants (tenants in eviction cases), but our estimates suggest that 40% of defendants were white, 34% were Black or African American, 12.5% were Latinx, and 6.4% were Asian. This shows an alarming racial disparity in King County evictions, especially amongst Black renters. 6.3% of King County’s population identifies as Black or African American, but over a third of all evictions filed in King County are against Black or African American tenants.
These plaintiffs filed the most evictions in 2019. HJP staff collected this information by recording the plaintiff named on the caption of the eviction filing. Six of these ten plaintiffs represent a single property, while the remaining four represent multiple properties throughout the county1.
90.6% of evictions filed by these plaintiffs were based on nonpayment of rent, compared to 87.5% of overall evictions. Looking at the cases filed by the eight plaintiffs designated as limited liability companies or other corporate entities (all except King County Housing Authority and Seattle Housing Authority)2, this percentage increases to 97.7%. Four of these eight LLC/corporate plaintiffs are subsidized by the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)3 and rent exclusively to low-income tenants, but are also more likely to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent.
GRE Downtowner LLC and GRE Avante LLC
These two plaintiffs filed the second and sixth (tie) most evictions, respectively. GRE Downtowner LLC is the named plaintiff for Addison on Fourth, located at 308 4th Ave South in Seattle.4 This is a LIHTC property with 254 units. In 2019, 51 out of 53 of their evictions were based on nonpayment of rent. Although they were second in number of evictions by plaintiff, it is notable that they had just five fewer eviction filings than the top plaintiff, King County Housing Authority, which represents multiple properties and over 10,000 units throughout the county.
GRE Avante LLC is the named plaintiff for the Driftwood Apartments. The court records filed by this plaintiff included a variety of addresses on West James Street in Kent5. This is a single property with 382 units. 100% of the evictions filed at that building in 2019 were about nonpayment of rent.
These two properties are both limited liability companies6 and both listed on Goodman Real Estate, Inc.’s website under current multifamily projects.
Park 16 LLC and Promenade Apartments LLC
Park 16 LLC and Promenade Apartments LLC, two single properties in South King County, filed the fifth and sixth (tie) most evictions, respectively. Both are associated with HNN Communities and are LIHTC, limited liability companies.7 Park 16, located at 35703 16th Ave South in Federal Way, has 293 units and filed 37 evictions in 2019, all based on nonpayment of rent. Promenade Apartments, located at 12902 SE 312th St in Auburn, has 294 units and filed 36 evictions in 2019, 91.7% of which were based on nonpayment.8
King County Housing Authority and Seattle Housing Authority
The King County Housing Authority (KCHA) and Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) are public entities. KCHA and SHA represent multiple properties with thousands of units – KCHA has over 11,000 units of housing, while SHA has over 8,000 units. Of the other eight plaintiffs, only two represented multiple properties – Allied Residential and Essex Management Corporation.9 This means that, unlike KCHA and SHA, most of the top plaintiffs’ filings were concentrated in a single building, rather than spread out across multiple properties.
67.2% of KCHA’s cases and 64.7% of SHA’s cases were based on nonpayment. This is significantly less than the other eight plaintiffs’ bases for eviction – all of the other plaintiffs had at least 91% of their cases based on nonpayment, and four plaintiffs had 100% of their cases based on nonpayment.
KCHA was listed as both “King County Housing Authority” and “The Housing Authority of the County of King” as the plaintiff. These cases were coded as King County Housing Authority in our analysis. There were additional cases with the plaintiff listed as “The Housing Authority of the County of King DBA Meadowbrook,” “King County Housing Authority d/b/a Wonderland Estates,” and “The Housing Authority of the County of King DBA Villages at South Station;” any case with a plaintiff that included this designation was not included in this analysis.
Similarly, SHA was referred to as both “Seattle Housing Authority” and “The Housing Authority of the City of Seattle, Washington” as the plaintiff. These cases were coded as Seattle Housing Authority in our analysis.
No-cause Terminations / Expired Lease
No-cause terminations are the second most frequent basis for eviction, after nonpayment of rent. In several jurisdictions, a landlord does not have to provide a reason for ending a tenant’s tenancy, but can instead give a tenant a 20-day notice to vacate without cause. If the tenant does not vacate in this time frame, the landlord can file an eviction. Some jurisdictions, like Seattle, have a Just Cause Eviction Ordinance (JCEO), which prohibits no-cause evictions. However, the Seattle ordinance does not protect tenants whose leases are expiring.
Unincorporated King County, the areas within the county that fall outside city limits, saw more no-cause evictions than any other jurisdiction in King County. In 2019, 19.8% of all no-cause evictions were in Unincorporated King County, despite only 6.9% of all evictions occurring in these areas. 12.6% of evictions in Unincorporated King County were without cause, compared to just 4.4% of all evictions county-wide.
Burien and Federal Way, which are also in the top five cities for no-cause evictions, passed JCEOs that went into effect in late 2019. Kent and Unincorporated King County currently do not have any protection against no-cause evictions.
Just under half of all evictions based on lease violations were in Seattle. However, with most evictions in King County occurring in Seattle, lease violation evictions made up just 7.5% of Seattle’s overall evictions. Of the 87 lease violation evictions filed in Seattle, 40.2% were filed by nonprofit landlords, while the remaining 59.8% of cases were filed by corporate or individual landlords.
33.5% of lease violation evictions were filed against a Black tenant, while just 6.3% of King County’s population identifies as Black.
The top two plaintiffs for lease violation evictions were the King County Housing Authority and the Seattle Housing Authority. Community House Mental Health and Independent Living Associates LLC (also known as SHAG)10 are also amongst the top plaintiffs for evictions based on lease violations. According to their respective websites, Community House “helps people with severe and persistent mental illness,” and SHAG “provide(s) sustainable senior housing to improve the lives of seniors.”
Nonpayment of Rent
The majority of evictions in King County were about nonpayment (87.5%).
Most nonpayment eviction filings were in January (451) - almost 100 more than the month with the second-most filings (May with 368). There are some disparities when looking at the frequency of nonpayment evictions between different racial groups. For White tenants, 82.8% of evictions are about nonpayment. For Asian tenants, this increases to 89.4%; for Black tenants, 90.3% of evictions are about nonpayment; for Latinx tenants, 92.7% of evictions are about nonpayment.
The Housing Justice Project provides free legal help to renters at risk of eviction in King County. On average HJP helps more than 2,000 households per year. These households are only a portion of those facing eviction as eviction actions may be commenced without filing the case within the Superior Court. To track trends and provide a more complete picture of evictions in King County HJP staff compiled data on all the 2019 King County Unlawful Detainer filings.
The initial data was gathered from a records request to the Department of Judicial Administration for all 2019 unlawful detainer filings within King County.
HJP Staff used case numbers provided from the records request to look up the court record in the King County Department of Judicial Information Electronic Court Records database. Staff viewed the Complaint for Unlawful Detainer for each case, which details why the eviction was filed. According to the complaint, and additional court records, staff recorded the Plaintiff Name, Tenant Name, Address, including City and Zip codes, and coded the primary and secondary reasons the eviction was filed for each case. The Plaintiff Name, Tenant Name and Address were recorded in the same manner in which they were listed on the complaint. Plaintiff Names that were variations of the same name were standardized into one name. Plaintiff names followed by d/b/a information were recorded as listed on the complaint. The cases were coded into the following categories:
- No cause termination - Notice to terminate tenancy without cause; 20-day notice to vacate without cause; fixed-term lease expiration.
- Lease violation/ Behavior - Summons and complaint based on: 10-day notice to comply or vacate, 3-day notice to quit (waste/nuisance), affidavit of threat to health and safety, Anti-Harassment or Temporary Protection Order, notice to terminate based with reference to lease violations; may include arrests for assault with no notice. May include 20-day notice to vacate in a Low Income Housing Tax Credit notice where behavior is listed.
- Mutual termination - Summons and complaint based on previously signed mutual termination notice
- Nonpayment of rent/and or other charges - Summons and complaint based on 3-day or 14-day pay or vacate notice; Summons and complaint based on 10-day notice for non-rent charges (prior to eviction reform)
- Unauthorized Occupant(s) - Summons and complaint based on claims of no lease, unauthorized occupants, no right to property. May include 3-day notice to quit.
- Post Foreclosure – 20, 60, or 90-day notice to vacate for property purchased at a trustees or sheriff’s sale
- Other - Other reasons not listed above
The completed data set was geocoded and processed for race demographic estimations, by Tim Thomas, Postdoc at UC Berkeley’s Urban Displacement Project, using the Bayesian model, which, pulls a race estimate for each case based on surname & neighborhood race demographics.
The US Census Bureau Quickfacts website was used to find demographic and housing information for King County as a whole and individual cities within the county. Data on renter households was found by converting the Owner-occupied Housing Unit Rate to a whole number and subtracting it from the Total Households.
HJP Staff used the compiled 2019 Unlawful Detainer data and King County US Census Bureau Quickfacts data to create the visuals above.
1King County Housing Authority, Seattle Housing Authority, Allied Residential, and Essex Management represent multiple properties; the remaining plaintiffs represent single properties. This was determined by looking at the property name and address, as listed on the complaints.
2Business typ determined by looking at the websites associated with each plaintiff and running a corporation search on the Secretary of State website.
3Refer to the Active WSHFC Multifamily Rental Properties report.
4Property name and address taken from the complaints filed by plaintiff and their website.
5Property name and address taken from the complaints filed by plaintiff and their website.
6Business type determined by running a corporation search on the Secretary of State website.
7Business type determined by running a corporation search on the Secretary of State website.
8 Number of units gathered from the National Housing Preservation Database.
9 This was determined by looking at the property name and address, as listed on the complaints.
10 Based on complaint and supporting documents filed by plaintiff.