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Maricopa County eviction filings are increasing, and tenants owe more on average

Eviction filings in Maricopa County have been steadily increasing since the nationwide moratorium on some types of evictions ended last August, and tenants are facing expensive judgments.

Maricopa County Justice Courts report the average amount owed in eviction cases increased more than 70% in just two years. In 2019, evicted tenants owed $1,922 on average, in 2021, the average was $3,277.  

Judge Anna Huberman, presiding justice of the peace, said rising rent prices likely account for some of the increase. But she said the pandemic also caused delays and changed the way some landlords approach eviction cases. 

“I think that we’re still getting cases where the landlord has waited maybe two or three months to file the eviction, and so there’s also higher amounts in the judgments because they cover more than just one month of rent,” Huberman said. 

The number of eviction filings in Maricopa County still hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels. In February, Maricopa County Justice Courts saw 4,509 filings — about 86% the number of evictions that were filed in February 2019. Huberman thinks rental assistance programs have helped keep people housed.

"It hasn't been a tsunami in the sense that they didn't all at once hit when the moratorium expired," Huberman said. "I think that's probably due to so much rental assistance being available that folks were still able to pay off whatever debts had been accumulating during the moratorium." 

But, Huberman said, "the caseload is definitely trending up." 

As eviction filings continue to climb, she said tenants should know more  assistance is still available.

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Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.