Eviction is a painful process, and the pain doesn’t end with losing your apartment. Having an eviction on your record can mark you as a risk even if your finances have improved and can make it difficult to rent another apartment.
Landlords can find out about your rental history from your credit report or rental history reports kept by separate companies. Your eviction may remain on these reports for up to seven years. The reports are sometimes inaccurate, so if you’re looking for an apartment you should check your reports and be sure you aren’t carrying someone else’s black marks on your record.
If you do have an eviction on your record you may be able to get it removed or find a landlord who will rent to you despite your history.
Eviction is a legal process that has to follow specific steps and meet specific conditions. Your landlord cannot simply demand that you leave, remove your belongings or change the locks. The process may vary from state to state but usually involves these steps.
The landlord must establish and prove a valid reason for eviction. Valid reasons include these (among others):
- Failure to Pay Rent
- Violation of Lease Terms
- Damage to the Property
- Violations of Occupancy, Noise, or Health Laws
- Illegal Activity on the Premises
- Health or Safety Hazards
The landlord must present a formal eviction notice. The notice must cite the reasons for the eviction and give the tenants a period of time to remedy the situation. If the tenants take no action, the landlord has to file for eviction with the local court. There will be a hearing and the tenant will have a chance to present their side of the story.
If the court rules in favor of the landlord, there is a judgment against the tenant and the court will issue an eviction order. A Sheriff may then assist the landlord in removing the tenant.
It’s important to remember that if the tenant voluntarily leaves the property before the court issues an eviction notice, the process is not actually an eviction, even if an eviction notice has been issued.
If the tenant still has rent due when they leave, the landlord may sue the tenant to recover the money and may win a judgment from the court.
How Can Eviction Affect Your Credit?
Many landlords, particularly smaller ones, do not report to the credit reporting companies. If you rent from a property management company and they do report, your late payments and eviction will appear in your credit report. They will harm your credit and any potential landlord who checks your credit will see them.
If the landlord who evicted you did not report to the credit reporting companies, your late payments and eviction will not appear on your credit report. There are still several ways that your credit report could be affected by the eviction:
- If your landlord sells your account to a collection company, the collection company could place a collection account on your credit record.
- If your landlord obtains an eviction order or sues you to collect an unpaid balance, a judgment against you may appear in the public records section of your credit report. It may affect your credit and it will be visible to anyone who checks your credit.
- The National Consumer Assistance Plan of 2015 dramatically reduced the number of civil judgments appearing in credit reports, and many judgments may not appear in your credit report. They will still be accessible in public records searches and they may affect your ability to rent an apartment. Tenant screening companies will usually perform a public records search.
Your credit report is not the only place a potential landlord can see a record of your eviction. Several companies also keep rental history reports, and many landlords check these reports or engage tenant screening services before accepting a new tenant.
Records in a rental history report will not affect your credit, but an eviction record can make it difficult to rent another apartment.
How Long Does an Eviction Stay On My Record?
Federal law requires that all negative records be removed from your record after seven years, except for criminal convictions and some forms of bankruptcy, which may remain for up to 10 years. These laws apply to both credit reports and rental history reports. Your record will disappear from both reports after seven years.
The seven years will be computed from the date of your first delinquency after which the account was no longer brought up to date. For an eviction, the seven years will be calculated from the due date of the first payment you missed in the sequence that led to the eviction.
If you’re considering looking for an apartment and you have an eviction in your past, check all three of your credit reports to see what records of your eviction appear. You can also pull your reports from major rental history companies and check those records. Note the dates of the first missed payments, add seven years, and you will know when the records will no longer be reported.
You Can Rent an Apartment Even With an Eviction on Your Record
Seven years is a long time, and your finances can improve considerably after events that led to eviction. Renting an apartment is harder with an eviction on your record, but it doesn’t have to be impossible.
If you’re considering looking for an apartment and you have an eviction in your past, check all three of your credit reports to see what records of your eviction appear. You can also pull your reports from major rental history companies and check those records.
If there are errors in the reports, or if your landlord may have evicted you illegally, you may be able to get the eviction removed from your record. There are two primary ways to have an eviction removed from your record:
- You can dispute a record with the rental history or credit reporting company.
- You can petition the court that issued the eviction order to remove it from the record if you have evidence that the eviction did not follow the legal process.
If the eviction was legitimate, contact your former landlord, if possible, and offer to pay any arrears. Some landlords will remove negative records, or at least adjust them so that they show that you paid the outstanding balance. They may even give you a positive recommendation.
If you’re looking at a new apartment, tell the landlord upfront that you have an eviction on your history. There are several ways to convince a landlord that you have the will and capacity to pay your rent and take care of a property:
- Explain why you were evicted and how your financial status has changed. It may help to show proof of employment and income.
- Offer to make a larger deposit. You may have to save more to make the deposit but having several months’ rent on deposit can make a landlord more willing to take risks.
- Get references from other former landlords, if possible. Character references from employers or other credible people may also help.
- Get a cosigner. A credible cosigner on your lease may convince an undecided landlord to accept you as a tenant. Be sure both you and your cosigner fully understand the responsibilities and risks involved.
If you’re negotiating with potential landlords and you have some black marks on your record, try to make the right first impression. Dress professionally, be on time, be polite, and be prepared with evidence of employment and salary, references, and any other documents that you believe will help.
Eviction can become a serious black mark on your financial history. It may not have an immediate impact on your credit, but it can stay on your rental history for seven years and make it more difficult for you to rent an apartment. If you have an eviction on your record, you should check what records of your eviction exist and whether they are accurate. Try to remove them if possible. If not, you may still be able to rent an apartment.