Southern California eviction cases account for more than 60 percent of all eviction court filings in the state, a new study released Wednesday, May 30 shows.

Landlords filed 306,537 eviction cases from 2014 through 2016 in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties, according to a report by the San Francisco-based tenants rights group Tenants Together.

Thats 61 percent of the 499,010 cases filed over a three-year period statewide, the figures show. Tenants Together obtained previously unreleased statewide data on eviction filings from the state Judicial Council, which aggregates data from county courthouses statewide.

Southern California had an average annual eviction rate of 3.1 filings for every 100 renter households, the data show. Statewide, the average annual eviction rate was 2.8 filings per 100 renter households.

Both rates are low when compared with other parts of the country.

North Charleston, S.C., had 35.6 eviction filings per 100 renter households in 2016, the highest eviction filing rate in an Eviction Lab study led by Princeton sociologist Mathew Desmond, the New York Times reported in April. Richmond, Va., ranked second in Desmonds survey with 30.9 filings per 100 renter households.

Eviction Lab data show 93 out of 100 large U.S. cities had higher eviction rates than Southern California.

As with a 2017 Southern California News Group report on evictions, the Tenants Union figures show evictions are trending downward as the economy improves.

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Eviction filings in the region decreased to 96,845 in 2016, down from 103,026 in 2015 and 106,666 in 2014, the Tenants Union numbers show. The same trend occurred in all five Southern California counties and in the state as a whole.

The Southern California News Groups report found eviction filings in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties fell 30 percent from 2008 through 2015, according to data from Redfin. Sheriffs departments in the four counties confirmed that downward trend, reporting a 29 percent drop in evictions from 2012 through 2016, SCNG reported.

Still, the Tenants Union concluded theres an “eviction epidemic,” saying “a growing crisis of evictions and rising rents” has galvanized grassroots organizing for rent control and “just cause” eviction protections.

“Tenants live in fear of eviction in retaliation for repair requests or organizing with their neighbors against rent hikes and displacement,” the report said.

Related: What is just cause eviction and how does it work in rent control cities?

The report added that the court filing data represent just the tip of the iceberg since many tenants are forced to move without going to court.

“Most evictions do not go through the court process since landlords give eviction notices prior to the filing of unlawful detainer eviction lawsuits,” a Tenants Union press release states. “For every tenant facing a court-filed eviction, there are others displaced from their homes who do not show up in court filing data.”

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