Receiving an eviction notice can be an overwhelming moment. There’s the emotional response of losing your home paired with the practical worry of your financial future.
Whether you’re saddled with medical bills or just lost your job, being evicted is usually the capstone to other major life events already taking place.
If you’re in this situation or are close to it, there are several things you should know to avoid exponential consequences throughout your life.
Here’s a breakdown of how an eviction can affect your credit scores so that you can be informed throughout the process and hopefully minimize the negative effects.
Remember, it’s always best to avoid getting evicted if at all possible, 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 and your landlord sends the delinquency to a collection agency.
While there’s not a set timeframe for when this information appears on your credit report, the item is treated like any other delinquent debt on your credit report. That means the delinquency and legal proceedings that lead to an eviction stay on your credit report for seven years from the date of delinquency, even if you eventually pay it off.
The results of your eviction could appear on your credit report in the public records section. This happens if the eviction lawsuit results in a civil judgment and you owe unpaid rent and/or court fees.
The amount appears on your credit history as a debt owed through a civil judgment and will stay on your credit report for seven years from the original filing date.
Under what circumstances can you be evicted?
Eviction laws vary by state, but generally, 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. If, however, 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 rent you owe plus court fees.
The next type of eviction is when you break the terms of your lease. 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 fix 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, you can also be hit with this clause even if you’ve made an improvement to the property, but it was not approved or allowed for 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, so it’s important 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?
While the situations above describe reasons for a tenant’s removal from the property, eviction from a technical standpoint entails the landlord suing a renter for refusal to leave.
A few places allow landlords to employ “self-help” eviction tactics, like changing the locks on the property, but this is illegal in most places. If your landlord does this to you, make sure you check to see if this is legal. Otherwise, it’s time to contact the authorities.
Instead of locking you out, the landlord must usually go 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, giving a specific deadline of when it must be vacated. If the tenant is still there on 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, but 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 not only tells you when and where to arrive for your court hearing but also 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.
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 pay the owed rent and court fees at the hearing itself.
How does an eviction impact your future housing prospects?
Unfortunately, an eviction will almost undoubtedly hurt your ability to secure housing in the future.
Many landlords perform credit checks on prospective tenants. So, if your credit report contains debts owed through collection agencies or civil judgments, that will raise a big red flag on your application.
Even if a landlord can’t tell that the collection debt is rent-related, they’ll still question your ability or propensity to pay the rent on time each month.
You’ll also have trouble getting approved for a mortgage, credit card, or personal loan during those seven years because your credit score will take a huge hit.
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, or you were evicted but didn’t owe any money, many landlords use a tenant screening company 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 good tenant but are in a rough spot with your money, it can’t hurt to try being open and working 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 to have the eviction expunged from your 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 a Civil Judgment from Your Credit Report
Once you’ve had the eviction expunged from your record, you will have to dispute the civil judgment placed on your credit report by the major credit bureaus; Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. They will not remove it from your credit report automatically. It’s also possible to have it removed from your credit report even if it hasn’t been expunged from your record.
To do so, you will need to dispute the judgment with each credit bureau separetly. 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 different areas of your life. Your ability to borrow money, find another living situation, and even get a new job could all be compromised because of this one life event. Your best bet is to avoid eviction at all costs. Otherwise, your credit score 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 report.
If you’re looking for a reputable credit repair company to help you remove negative items from your credit report and repair your credit, we HIGHLY recommend Lexington Law.
Call them at (800) 220-0084 for a free credit consultation. They have helped many people in your situation and have paralegals standing by waiting to take your call.