If you’ve ever been evicted from your home, or are you worried about being evicted now, you know it can be an overwhelming situation. There’s the emotional response of losing your home paired with the practical worry of your financial future.
Being evicted usually follows other major life events, like medical bills or losing your job. There are several things you should know if you are in this situation or are close to it so that you can avoid exponential consequences.
To minimize the negative effects of your eviction, here is an overview of how evictions affect credit scores.
Remember, it’s always best to avoid getting evicted if you can, so you don’t ruin your credit, and other abilities, for years to come.
How long does an eviction stay on your record?
An eviction may appear on your credit report in one of two ways.
The first situation is if you have unpaid rent payments and your landlord sends the delinquency to a collection agency.
There’s not a set timeframe for when this information appears on your credit report. An eviction is treated like any other collection account on your credit report. Collection accounts from an eviction stay on your credit report for up to seven years, even if you eventually pay it off.
The results of an eviction, such as a lawsuit that lead to a civil judgment, no longer appear on your credit report in the public records section. However, if owe unpaid rent or court fees they could stay on your credit report for up to seven years from the original filing date.
Public records are no longer included in credit reports from the three major credit bureaus. However, evictions do still show up on your rental history report in background checks and tenant screening reports.
Under what circumstances can you be evicted?
Eviction laws vary by state. However, typically, there are four different types, which influence how the process is handled and, ideally, avoided.
Pay or Leave
When you fail to pay your rent, your landlord or property manager can issue a notice to “pay rent or quit.” At that time, you usually have three days to either leave the property or make, at a minimum, a partial payment.
If you do pay, the eviction notice is nullified. However, if you don’t pay anything and remain on the property, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit. If you lose the lawsuit, you can be removed, and you must compensate the landlord for the unpaid rent you owe plus court fees.
The next type of eviction is when you break the terms of your lease agreement. An example of this is keeping a pet on the property or subletting your unit if you’re not allowed in your lease. Once you receive notice, you have ten days to resolve the problem. Otherwise, you’ll be asked to leave at that time.
Creating “waste or nuisance” is also cause for eviction and includes things like being extremely messy or not keeping up with the property appropriately.
Oddly enough, this clause can also apply if you’ve made improvements to the property that weren’t allowed or approved in the rental agreement. You’ll be given a three-day warning in this situation and are required to leave with no chance to change your habits.
Finally, in some jurisdictions, your landlord can kick you out without any specific cause, as long as it’s not discriminatory, and your lease is month-to-month. The landlord is required to give you at least a 20-day notice, at which time you must leave the property.
Each of these laws varies depending on where you live. Therefore, it’s imperative to do your research to ensure your landlord follows the proper procedures in asking you to leave. Always understand your rights to make sure no one is taking advantage of you.
What is an eviction in legal terms?
A tenant can be evicted for various reasons. But, technically speaking, an eviction is when a landlord sues a tenant for refusal to leave.
Some states permit landlords to use “self-help” eviction tactics, such as changing the locks. However, this is illegal in most states. If your landlord does this to you, make sure you check to see if it’s legal where you live. Otherwise, it’s time to contact the authorities.
Instead of locking you out, the landlord must usually proceed through the court system to file a lawsuit against you and obtain a writ of possession.
A law enforcement officer then posts the eviction notice on the property. This gives a specific deadline of when it must be vacated. If the tenant is still there after the posted date, the law enforcement officer will physically remove the tenant and their belongings.
What happens when you get an eviction notice?
The specific requirements may vary by state. However, what typically happens is that you’ll receive a summons and complaint delivered by a law enforcement official, such as someone from your local Sheriff’s office.
This notice tells you when and where to arrive for your court hearing. It also tells you what the landlord is suing you for. It could be for you to simply leave the property, or the landlord might also be seeking past due rent payments.
So, it’s important to go to the court hearing if you want to defend yourself against your landlord. If you don’t go, the landlord usually wins by a default judgment.
You’ll be held liable for the consequences laid out in the summons: eviction and potentially back rent plus court fees for all parties involved. However, in some states, you might be able to prevent the eviction entirely if you can make the rent payments and court fees at the hearing itself.
How does an eviction impact your future housing prospects?
Unfortunately, an eviction on your rental history will almost undoubtedly hurt your ability to secure housing in the future.
Many landlords perform credit checks on prospective tenants. So, if your rental history report contains unpaid rent to a collection agency or civil judgments, it will raise a big red flag on your application.
Even if a landlord can’t tell that the unpaid debt is rent-related, they’ll still question your ability or propensity to make your rent payments on time each month.
You’ll also have trouble getting approved for a mortgage, credit card, or personal loan during those seven years because the impact on credit scores will be severe.
Access to Credit in the Future
It will most likely be difficult to find housing with an eviction on your rental history and credit history. You may also have limited access to credit in the future.
Even if the landlord doesn’t check your credit report, they might look at your tenant screening report when considering rental applications.
Where can you go for help?
Because eviction laws differ from state to state, it’s best to research the relevant laws where you live. If you’re not sure where to start or think your landlord is mishandling the eviction process, look up your local Legal Aid chapter.
If you qualify under your chapter’s low-income guidelines, you can receive free legal assistance. They’re likely to have specific expertise with eviction defense.
You can also try negotiating directly with your landlord. If you just need a bit more time to come up with your rent money, consider telling them about your financial situation.
Most landlords want to avoid lengthy and potentially expensive court proceedings. So, if you’ve been a reliable tenant but are struggling with money, it doesn’t hurt to be open and try to work out an agreement.
How to Get an Eviction Removed from Your Record
To remove an eviction from your public record you will have to petition the court it expunged from your eviction record. You will then need to win your case by proving that the eviction was not legal or valid.
If the landlord fails to abide by the required legal procedures, you’ll have to prove it. You can also prove that you didn’t violate the lease.
How to Remove an Eviction Judgment From Your Credit Report
After the eviction record has been expunged, you will need to get the civil judgment or collection account removed from your credit report. You can do this by disputing the items on your credit reports with the three major credit bureaus; Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. They will not remove these items from your credit report automatically.
It’s also possible to have them removed from your credit report even if it hasn’t been expunged from your eviction record. To do so, you will need to dispute the items with each credit bureau separately. You can do so by phone, online, or the best way is to send them a dispute letter.
Getting Professional Help
Being evicted from your rental property will have long-term negative results in many areas of your life. Your ability to borrow money, find another living situation, or even find a new job may all be affected by this one life event. So, you should avoid eviction at all costs. Otherwise, your credit scores and mobility in life could suffer greatly.
However, if the eviction has already happened, you still have a chance to get it removed from your credit reports.
If you’re looking for a reputable credit repair company to help you remove negative items from your credit report and repair your credit, consider working with Lexington Law.
They have helped many people in your situation. Give them a call at (800) 220-0084 for a free credit consultation to see what they can do for you.