All this week we’ve been reporting on how evictions are financially and emotionally costly for landlords and tenants. Both parties generally want the same thing: the rent to be paid in full and on time. But as housing costs and rents continue to rise faster than wages, low income advocates say policy changes are necessary to support thousands of at-risk Mainers.  This is the fifth in our series, "Eviction: Life Unpacked." 

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A recent study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition finds that for every 10 Maine families seeking affordable rental housing, there are fewer than 6 units available.

Many of these households spend more than half of their incomes on housing and utilities. They may qualify for housing assistance such as Section 8, but there's often at least a three-year wait. And there are other barriers that can get in the way of help.

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Every week in Maine, landlords try to evict more than 100 tenants through the courts. Others work out informal agreements to have tenants leave by a certain date. Either way, it can be a confusing and frustrating process for both sides.

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In Maine and around the country, evictions are taking a heavy toll — on landlords, tenants and their communities. For landlords, there's the challenge of covering bills when rent isn't paid. For chronically poor tenants, getting evicted often leads to homelessness. And for neighborhoods, studies show, high eviction rates contribute to instability and, with it, increased crime.

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What happens when a family gets evicted from its home? What recourse is possible? And what rights do landlords have when tenants don’t pay the rent?

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

All this week we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the problem of eviction in Maine in a series called “Eviction: Life Unpacked.”