Interventions to prevent tenant evictions: a systematic review

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Abstract

Tenant evictions are a significant cause of homelessness. As evictions are a traumatic experience for those being evicted and involve high costs, preventing evictions is vital and should be part of local and national policy. In order to develop and implement preventive practices and policies, it is essential to know which interventions are effective in preventing evictions. However, little is known about these interventions. Therefore, a systematic search of the international literature, providing an overview of interventions to prevent evictions published in scientific journals and reporting on their (cost-)effectiveness, was conducted. Nine electronic databases and Google Scholar were searched for peer-reviewed and non-reviewed publications describing research into interventions to prevent tenant evictions published in English between January 1985 and May 2012. Two researchers reviewed titles, abstracts and full-text articles and eventually seven publications describing eight interventions to prevent tenant evictions were analysed. The eight interventions vary widely in terms of their target population, focus, type of support and duration, which makes comparison of results difficult. Only three effect studies on preventive interventions regarding tenant evictions were found; two researchers assessed their quality. One of these studies was of insufficient quality to assess the effectiveness of the intervention described. Legal assistance and debt advice are promising interventions that seem to be effective in decreasing the risk of eviction. The effectiveness of the other five interventions cannot be determined. More methodologically sound research into the prevention of tenant evictions is needed and future research will have to clarify what works for whom, in which context.

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