FOX13 Investigates: Memphis has the highest eviction rate in the country

By: Jim Spiewak

Updated:

MEMPHIS, Tenn - Renters in Memphis get evicted more than people in any other city.

That’s according to a new report by Apartmentlist.com that looked at the 50 largest metro areas. Eviction is more than just a threat to thousands in Memphis. 

Attorney Jeff Lee knows as he's in court almost every single day representing landlords.

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He said Memphis is prime for evictions in part because of the large number of out of state property owners and first time investors.

“They’re not familiar with this area, they're not familiar with Tennessee courts, procedures or even Tennessee laws," Lee added.

The report found almost 210,000 rented households in Memphis. Renters in nearly 13,000 cases have been evicted over the last 3 years.

“It doesn't surprise me because Memphis is a very tenant friendly city,” Lee said.

By that, Lee said professional renters familiar with eviction laws know how to take advantage of the system. In some cases they live rent free for up to a year before moving to the next property and starting the process all over again.

"And they will say to you, I didn't get notice or I've got 13 days from this event and really sort of turn it into a full time job to stay in a property without paying rent,” Lee added.

The report, which looked at data of 8 million people, found 1 in 5 renters were not able to pay their rent in the last 3 months, but it also found half of the people evicted in Memphis made $60,000 a year or more.  

Lee told FOX13 these people tend to use some of the same gaps in the system to beat it.

“They have found ways to file appeals and bankruptcies and procedural tricks to where even though they could pay they choose not to,” Lee told FOX13.

The report found African Americans face the highest risk and homes with kids are twice as likely to face eviction. Also, the report found that while many low income renters qualify for government help in paying rent, many of them don’t end up getting it, leaving the majority of low income renters struggling to pay.

Click here for the full report.

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