Freddie Davis, whose landlord raised his rent by 60 percent in the same month he lost his job as a truck driver, waits for a friend to arrive to help him move his remaining belongings to a storage unit, after receiving a final eviction notice at his one-bedroom apartment, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, in Miami. In Maine, evictions increased by more than 25 percent over the last year, as many Mainers faced increased economic stress from rising costs of groceries, heating and rent. Credit: Rebecca Blackwell / AP

More than 4,900 eviction were filed in Maine last year — the highest number since before the pandemic.

According to newly published data from the State of Maine Judicial Branch, filings were up by more than 25 percent in 2022.

Chris Marot, the managing attorney for the eviction prevention project at Pine Tree Legal Assistance, said the numbers reflect the trend of developers buying up large apartment buildings, renovating them, and then using “no-cause” evictions to remove tenants.

“It’s not that they haven’t paid their rent. It’s not that they’ve caused a problem,” Marot said. “It can be for, as the name says, no cause at all. No reason at all. And that is a tool that some of these folks who are buying up apartment buildings, and want to renovate and turn over, are using, in order to go through that process. And it does displace quite a number of people.”

Marot said the state has seen a notable increase in filings over the last few months, as federal rental relief funding dries up.

“We’ve seen an increase in non-payment filings. Which would mean, folks who aren’t able to afford their current month’s rent, and are falling behind, once were supported by that rent relief program. Now they are having to turn to either alternative resources or face eviction,” Marot said.

Gov. Janet Mills included $21 million for a range of housing supports as part of an emergency heating relief package passed by the legislature earlier this month.

Marot says he hopes the new package will help families, but he fears that despite the short-term funding, many will still face an uncertain future.

This story appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.