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2011 / 2

An ever increasing number of tenants are being evicted - why?


In recent years, the number of evictions has been increasing in Denmark. Now researchers from SFI - Danish National Centre for Social Research will study who is being evicted and why, and they will measure the effects of preventive measures taken by the Danish government. Focus will particularly be on the importance of lower social benefits rates for socially disadvantaged tenants.

By Gunvor Christensen, PhD student, SFI - Danish National Centre for Social Research

In 2008, researchers from SFI - Danish National Centre for Social Research published the first in-depth study of why tenants are being evicted from their homes, which covered the period from 2002 to 2006. Now a new study is about to be conducted, in which the material will be updated to 2010, and a wider range of important topics will be covered than in the first study.

The question we will try to answer is why an increasing number of tenants are losing their homes according to calculations by the Court Administration. Since the material will be somewhat more extensive this time, it will enable us to find out more, e.g. the importance of income source. This means that we can identify the impact that the so-called 300-hour rule has had in recent years (the rule means that married couples who receive social cash benefits must have worked for at least 300 hours during the past two years in order to be entitled to social cash benefits. The limit has subsequently been raised to 450 hours, and today it has again been changed to 225 hours within the past one year for each spouse). We will also examine whether newly-arrived immigrants in Denmark only receiving starting allowance have a higher risk of losing their home.

Since the first study, a number of different preventive measures have been carried out in order to reduce the number of evictions. One of these measures is that social housing organisations must notify municipalities when an eviction case starts with a citizen from the municipality. The idea behind the notification obligation is to involve the municipalities as early as possible in an eviction case, so that the municipality together with the citizen can find a solution and avoid eviction.

Another important part of the study is identifying the people who are losing their home. The last study showed that many families with young children were among those being evicted. This came as a big surprise to many and has resulted in extra attention to the children in these families. Therefore, it is important to find out whether many families with young children are still being evicted and the reasons behind this, particularly because the Ministry of Social Affairs has tried to contribute to increased focus by the municipalities on the connection between evictions and families with young children. The municipalities assign tenants to the social housing sector. Some of the large housing organisations have looked into this and have established that tenants assigned by the municipalities are more likely to be evicted from their home than other tenants. Therefore the study will also look into this problem.

The study will also focus on how municipal case processing is carried out in order to describe the cooperation between municipality, housing organisation and tenant. This will be done through reviews of a number of cases, interviews with case officers and managers in the social administrations of municipalities, as well as surveys of all municipalities and the largest housing organisations. This process will provide us with a picture of why people are being evicted, and of how municipalities handle cases in which their citizens become evicted or are at risk of becoming evicted. The municipalities differ considerably with regard to the number of people being evicted from their home.

In addition, 1,500 tenants who have lost their home will also be interviewed, so their experience of cooperation with municipalities and the help they received, or did not receive, will become part of the overall picture.

The results will be published in spring 2012.

Further information contact Gunvor Christensen, guc@sfi.dk

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