Residential evictions surge in Queens

By Adam Pincus | May 20, 2009 12:55PM

The number of residential evictions in Queens rose by more than a quarter last year while the volume was flat or decreased in other boroughs, according to the most current city data obtained by The Real Deal.

In Queens, 4,401 households were evicted in 2008, a 27 percent increase from a year earlier when there were 3,467, data from the city Department of Investigation reveals. By evictions, The Real Deal is including what are technically called “evictions” as well as “legal possessions.”

The Department of Investigation uses both terms to describe the return of the property to the control of the landlord, although both are what are commonly understood to be an eviction. Technically, in an eviction, the tenant’s property is removed and stored at a private warehouse, while in a legal possession the belongings remain at the property until the tenant can remove them, according to the DOI Web site. They have the same legal implications.

Citywide, there were 25,027 evictions carried out last year, a 1.3 percent increase from 2007, the data shows. Manhattan saw evictions fall by 10 percent to 3,572 and in Brooklyn they fell by 1.5 percent to 7,688. In the Bronx, the number fell 1.2 percent to 8,583 while in Staten Island it rose by 4 percent to 783, the city information shows.

Housing advocates said it was difficult to explain the jump in Queens, but believed it was likely caused by the high number of foreclosures.

There were 2,226 new foreclosures in Queens in 2008, representing 59 percent of the total 3,764 new foreclosures in the city last year, data shows.

The Real Deal
reported in March that the number of city court cases that precede evictions and legal possessions, known as holdovers, fell in the first few months of 2009.

Housing advocate Benjamin Dulchin, deputy director with the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development, said there were two trends likely impacting eviction data.

Pushing the number up are the rising volume of foreclosures in one- to four-family homes in Queens while pushing it down are a reduced number of evictions in multi-family properties because of the weaker market and stronger housing laws.

But it was impossible to know from the official data, which does not separate different housing types, he said.

He added that the eviction numbers do not represent all the tenants forced to move out, because many leave after a landlord sues to have them removed but before they are evicted through holdover or non-payment cases.

“I don’t think these numbers get to the truth of what is happening in the city,” Dulchin said.