- 1 How to Tell If You Have an Eviction Record
- 2 Does An Eviction Show On a Credit Report?
- 3 Myths and Facts about Credit Reports
- 4 wiseGEEK: What is an Eviction Report?
- 5 How to Evict a Tenant – The Eviction Process in 8 Easy Steps
- 5.1 Step 1: Understanding the Eviction Laws
- 5.2 Step 2: Have a Valid Reason for Eviction
- 5.3 Step 3: Try to Reason with Your Tenants
- 5.4 Step 4: Give a Formal Notice of Eviction
- 5.5 Step 5: File Your Eviction with the Courts
- 5.6 Step 6: Prepare for and Attend the Court Hearing
- 5.7 Bonus Video: An Overview of the Eviction Process
- 5.8 Protecting Yourself in the Future
How to Tell If You Have an Eviction Record
Landlords routinely check the history of potential tenants to make sure they are telling the truth on their rental application and have a record of paying their rent on time. You can find your eviction record by carrying out the same background checks that a potential landlord would use, such as reviewing your credit and tenant screening reports. Knowing your eviction history will give you the opportunity to fix any discrepancies before your landlord finds out about them.
If you were evicted by court order, the court judgment will appear in the public records section of your credit report. If you owe money, the report might also include a collection account for unpaid rent. All three credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – are obligated to give you a free credit report once every 12 months. Order your reports online at AnnualCreditReport.com. It's a good idea to request all three reports, as the eviction might appear in one report and not the others.
Purchase a Tenant Screening Report
Several reputable companies, including the three credit reporting agencies, provide full tenant screening checks for a fee. These reports are aimed at potential landlords, but there's nothing to stop you ordering one for yourself. Tenant screening reports usually contain criminal history and credit information as well as eviction records, so can see all the events that have been filed against you in one place.
Eviction is the formal court process for removing a tenant from a property. If you've ever been evicted by a court order or writ of possession, then the eviction will show up in the courthouse for the county where you previously lived. These records are open public record. Some counties maintain a database for searching on the Internet, or you can visit the court clerk and ask to inspect the records.
An eviction stays on your credit report for seven years and remains on the court record for life. However, it may be possible to remove an erroneous eviction entry from your rental history. You'll need an order of "expungement" from a judge – requirements differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If expunged, the court eviction will not appear in the public records. You can then provide a copy of the order to any credit bureau reporting the eviction and ask that it be removed from your file.
Does An Eviction Show On a Credit Report?
A common question for tenants facing eviction is whether an eviction will show on a credit report. Tenants, understandably, are concerned about whether such cases will become a public record and be accessible by others.
According to the credit bureaus , the mere filing of an eviction case by a landlord will not, on its own, show on a tenant’s credit report. This makes sense: the mere filing of an eviction case does not mean that the tenant deserves to be evicted. If a tenant has a viable defense to an eviction case, the eviction will be unsuccessful.
However, if the landlord does succeed in an eviction case and the tenant owes the landlord money, the landlord can obtain a judgment for this owed amount. Such a judgment can be reported to the credit bureaus (the same as any owed debt). A landlord can also obtain a judgment if the tenant fails to show up to the scheduled court hearing; a landlord is permitted to obtain a default judgment, automatically giving the landlord possession of the property and the owed rent.
Although an eviction, on its own, may not show up in a credit report, evictions in Massachusetts are public record. Court records are available on masscourt.org and eviction cases can be searched a party’s full name. When an eviction is filed, it automatically becomes a public record and is accessible through this website. Several tenant screening services are said to search this website and create lists of filed eviction cases, to help landlords learn the rental history of a prospective tenant.
With this in mind, tenants need to be careful in resolving an eviction case with a landlord. If one of these cases is settled, the tenant should insist that an agreement for judgment or some similar paperwork be filed in the case to note that the matter was resolved amicably.
Myths and Facts about Credit Reports
Aside from a few tips on how to boost your credit score, not a lot of people know what’s true and false about credit reports. To be fair, even when you deal with credit every day, it can be difficult to keep the facts straight. Up your credit knowledge with our myth-busting guide, and see if you know the truth about these credit report myths.
MYTH: A credit report is the same as a credit score.
Fact: While your credit score certainly matters, it is just a small part of the credit report. Beyond your credit score, the credit report can show things like a summary of both your positive and negative credit accounts (also known as tradelines), your total estimated past due and monthly debts, a breakdown of your accounts, and payment history. Don’t forget your credit report will also show if there are have been any prior credit inquiries and when the inquiry was made.
MYTH: “My employer can see my credit score”
Fact: For the most part, most companies will not pull your credit report for employment purposes. While Experian admits that “the biggest users of credit reports for employment purposes are companies in the defense, chemical, pharmaceutical and financial services industries because of the sensitive positions many of their employees hold”, credit reports pulled for employment are different than credit reports in resident screening, and are pulled with your consent. To protect your financial security, account numbers, your year of birth, and references to your spouse are omitted. If your credit report is pulled for employment purposes, the employer will also not see your credit score, and the inquiry will not affect your credit score.
Not to be confused with credit reports, most companies will perform some basic employment screening which can include a social security trace and nationwide and county-level criminal search. Mandatory drug testing is also common.
MYTH: “The credit report will show any evictions that have taken place.”
Fact: While a money judgment against an applicant who didn’t pay their rent may be picked up by the credit bureau as a public record, most evictions won’t appear. The bureaus report less than 10% of the cases filed and they are only ones involving a monetary judgment. For example, if the resident violated the terms of their lease agreement like having an unauthorized pet but was not late on their rent, the eviction judgment would not be on the credit report. Many cases, especially in California, are for possession only.
Regardless, with the roll out of the National Consumer Assistance Plan (NCAP) on July 1, 2017, it’s likely that this slight 10% will be reduced even further. Rather than relying on a low credit score to indicate a civil judgement record, you’ll want to rely on a tenant screening service like CIC™ to provide the eviction data to clue you in.
MYTH: “All credit scores follow the same guidelines; the higher the better.”
Fact: Your credit score is calculated through a credit scoring model (or algorithm) at the time the credit report is pulled, and that algorithm can vary based on the company that developed it and the purpose for the credit inquiry. Take the two major credit scoring models (VantageScore®3.0 and FICO™) for example. VantageScore®3.0 was developed by the 3 major credit bureaus to analyze thin (or minimal information) credit files, and because of it, it can score over 30 million more consumers. FICO™, on the other hand, was developed by the Fair Issac Company and utilizes different models, causing the score to vary based on purpose. It’s also one of the most recognizable credit scoring models. While these two models have the same scoring ranges, there are differences in the way they analyze credit information and your credit score can vary between the two.
Pro Tip: there are many other non-standard credit scoring models out there that are unregulated, provide little consistency, and can be skewed towards the company who designed its interests! Make sure you’re getting your credit from one of the two major models. CIC™ utilizes FICO™and VantageScore®3.0.
MYTH: “You can’t change anything on your credit report.”
Fact: Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you have a right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information on your credit report by reporting it to the consumer reporting agency (their contact information should be listed on your credit report). After investigating your claim, if the information must be removed or corrected, by law the consumer reporting agency must do it within 30 days.
Regardless if you knew all of these things, or none of them, it’s important to be actively aware of what’s on your credit report. Learn the basics about credit reports by watching CIC™’s very own Compliance Manager, Caryn Bennett, interview consumers just like you right off the streets of New York in the “Man on the Street” video series. Take advantage of your free annual credit report, and request a copy of your report every time you get a credit inquiry. This will not only help you be aware of your credit standing, but allow you to immediately report any inaccuracies that pop up.
Have you come across any of these credit myths? Let us know in the comment section below and subscribe for more rental tips and tricks!
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wiseGEEK: What is an Eviction Report?
Eviction is the legal process in which a tenant is ordered by a court to leave a rental home so that the landlord can regain full control of her property. In many places, eviction is a public process that takes place in open court. If court records are open to public scrutiny, anyone can learn of an eviction and, in some cases, the fact that an eviction case was filed, even if the case was dismissed or the judge ruled in favor of the tenant. This information can be compiled into an eviction report by credit bureaus, background report companies, and tenant screening services. These companies can then sell this information to others, including landlords, property management companies, and even employers.
In many places, eviction can be a complex process that can take months to complete. During the eviction process, a landlord may have to spend a great deal of money on court fees, process servers, and trips to court, all during a time in which she may not be receiving any rent. For this reason, many landlords are understandably concerned about a tenant's rental history and may request that a prospective tenant undergo a background and credit screening as part of the rental application process. Landlords will usually check to see if a tenant has a history of eviction before approving a housing application. If an eviction report shows up, a landlord may be within her rights to deny the application or ask for an additional security deposit.
Tenants should be aware of the consequences of eviction, which can remain on their credit report and tenant screening files for many years after the eviction takes place. These consequences include damage to the credit score and lowered chances of finding a decent apartment. An eviction report may also hurt the tenant's chances of obtaining employment. If a tenant is served with eviction papers, he should do whatever he can to avoid eviction. He may first want to try and negotiate with his landlord, seek eviction mediation, or, if necessary, move out of the apartment on his own. If the case does go to court and he successfully defends himself against the eviction, he may be able to petition the court to expunge the eviction suit from public record so that it does not end up on an eviction report that can be made available to future landlords or creditors.
How to Evict a Tenant – The Eviction Process in 8 Easy Steps
Written on August 13, 2016 by Lucas Hall, updated on December 9, 2016
This article will guide you through the general eviction process and should help you with removing delinquent or deadbeat tenants from your rental property.
Being a great landlord doesn’t mean that you’re immune from having bad tenants. Yes, tenant screening is important, but even under the best of circumstances, it’s not unusual for a well-intentioned tenant to struggle to pay rent from time to time.
So even if you have a “good” relationship with your tenant, sometimes they just won’t be able to pay you. When that’s the case, you simply can’t let them stay free of charge, especially when there are others who will have no trouble paying you consistently.
Eviction seems harsh, but it’s the business of rental properties. If a tenant can’t pay, you have to remove them from your property. Sometimes, it’s as simple as asking them to leave. Other times, you will have to go through the formal eviction process.
Regardless of the situation, before starting the eviction process, you need to know the proper rules and procedures. This process can be summarized into 7 steps.
Step 1: Understanding the Eviction Laws
The eviction laws are different from state to state, and it’s smart to know and consider them while writing up your lease agreement, so that both parties know that such a document carries authority with it.
I recommend using a lease agreement that is written by lawyers, and specifically designed for your state. US Legal Forms has some great lease options that will keep you safe, legally.
If your lease agreement wasn’t been based off of the state laws, or if you’re unsure, you’ll want to spend some time researching your current situation, and see if you can win an eviction case.
Be Familiar with the Landlord and Tenant Act
The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA) provides a more detailed explanation of the legal side of the eviction process. At least 21 states have adopted the URLTA as the foundation for their state-specific landlord-tenant laws.
Don’t Take Matters into Your Own Hands.
“Self-help” evictions are illegal in every state. Even if the tenant is a deadbeat, a liar, and causing physical damage to your property, you CANNOT do any of the following actions without a court order:
- Remove the tenant’s stuff from the property.
- Remove the tenant (i.e. hire Hulk Hogan to physically carry the tenant out)
- Change the locks or lock-out the tenant.
- Shut off essential utilities (electric, gas, water, etc)
- Unleash a family of skunks in the tenant’s basement (aka, harassment)
In order for the courts to be on your side, you’ll need to follow these rules closely, and make sure that you do not to give a judge any reason to doubt that you are an outstanding law-abiding citizen.
In some cases, a tenant will make it easier for a landlord to evict them by breaking laws, destroying property, or violating the lease agreement.
Keep in mind, eviction will always sour the relationship between a landlord and tenant, but if they break laws in the process, the courts are more likely to rule in your favor. However, don’t expect to remain friends with any tenant that you are forced to evict. Landlord Tip #21, describes why you should never rent to friends.
Step 2: Have a Valid Reason for Eviction
You don’t want to start the process if you don’t have a good and lawful reason to. Typically, the following reasons (given fair notice to the tenant) will be sufficient for an eviction:
- Failing to pay rent
- Violating the lease/agreement (pets, subletting, illegal use, etc)
- Causing significant damage to property
- Breaking noise, occupancy, or health ordinances
- Health or safety hazards caused by the tenant
Remember, you’ll need documented proof of any claim against your tenant. “Innocent until proven guilty” is still overarching rule in the U.S. court system.
Step 3: Try to Reason with Your Tenants
If it doesn’t look like the law is entirely on your side, or if you just don’t want to spend the time and energy on an eviction case, try reasoning with them.
My suggestion would be to take your tenant to a public coffee shop and have a heart-to-heart chat about the situation. Often times, if you are “understanding but stern”, the tenant will agree to leave on their own accord. I prefer to have this conversation in a public location because the tenant is less likely to make a scene.
Use this “script” when talking to your tenant:
I realize that you’re having trouble paying your rent, and I feel for your situation. The fact is that I need someone in my rental that can pay rent, and if that’s not you, then you need to leave. Because I respect you, I wanted to give you a chance to leave on your own before I file an eviction lawsuit.
If I have to go through the eviction process, it will ruin your credit score, and you won’t be able to get a mortgage, car loan, or any loan for a very long time.
When I win the case, I will also need to sue you for any back-due rent, in which I will eventually be able to use that judgement to garnish your wages. If I have to do that, it will involve your employer, and will be very embarrassing for you.
I don’t want to do that to you. How would you like to proceed? Will you pay your rent immediately in full, or will you vacate the property ASAP?
Step 4: Give a Formal Notice of Eviction
If your tenant has chosen to be uncooperative, and you’ve established that you have the right to evict your tenant, you will need to make sure you follow the set legal procedures exactly.
One of the most important steps is to provide adequate “notice of eviction”. This is usually a simple document or form that gives an ultimatum – telling your tenant why they are being evicted and what they can do to avoid that eviction; pay rent, clean up the house, etc.
- It should include a deadline (date) to “pay-rent or move out”.
- It should include the amount owed (including all fees)
- You are typically required to post this notice within X number of days before filing the eviction paperwork with your local court.
- This document should be taped to their front door, as well as sent via Certified Mail / Return Receipt Requested with the United States Postal Service (USPS)
- Make it easy on yourself – use a state-specific eviction form template.
Congratulations, your tenant now knows that you’ve done your research, and that you’re serious about the situation. Usually, a formal eviction notice is enough to whip them into shape.
Otherwise, if the set amount of time (usually a week) goes by and nothing has changed, it’s time to file the eviction with the courts.
Step 5: File Your Eviction with the Courts
Visit your local courthouse to file your eviction and pay a fee (try not to think about all the money, time, and energy that your tenant is costing you), at which point the clerk will schedule your hearing and will eventually notify the tenant on your behalf – via a summons.
You will probably have to show proof (via receipt from certified mail) that you have given the proper amount of time that your state requires for an eviction notice.
Step 6: Prepare for and Attend the Court Hearing
Gather all related documentation and proof of your claim. You’ll want to have the following items at a minimum:
- lease agreements
- bounced checks
- records of payment of any kind
- records of the communication between you and your tenant (phone and email records).
- a copy of the written notice that you provided your tenant
- dated proof that the tenant received the notice (a signature from the tenant, or receipt from the Post Office).
Since a tenant won’t be able to lie about not paying their rent (since they can’t fabricate real rent payment records), their most likely defense will be to claim that you didn’t properly inform them of the eviction. Be prepared.
From the courts perspective, you will have the benefit of doubt on your side (some landlords might disagree with me). Besides, why would a landlord go through the trouble to evict someone for no reason?
Even with that working in your favor, you need to step up to the plate, armed with all the right information. Do your homework before your hearing.
Remember to get some sleep the night before your scheduled court date so that you are attentive and confident during the hearing. Always be honest and let your documentation/evidence speak for itself.
If all goes well in court (and it probably will), then your tenant will have a set amount of time to leave, which is anywhere from 48 hours to a week, depending on where you live.
If your tenant doesn’t leave on time, you have the right to get someone from the Sheriff’s department to escort them out and place their possessions on the curb. It’s definitely not a favorable outcome, but it does happen.
Some courts allow you to combine eviction and small claims lawsuits if they are related and involve the same individuals. If this is the case, you can sue for any back-due rent at the same time as the eviction case.
If your local court does not allow this, you’ll have to file a separate small claims lawsuit to pursue the owed rent money.
If the judge determines that the tenant does owe you the past-due rent, you will receive a “judgement” in your favor. This judgement will be delivered in the form of a court order, which you can give to the tenant’s employer.
This will force the employer to garnish the tenant’s wages, and then pay you before the tenant gets paid.
Believe it or not, you can actually garnish their tax refund! RentPrep does a fantastic job of explaining this process in the article: How to Execute Tax Refund Garnishments for Past Due Rent.
Wouldn’t that be a surprise when the tenant is expecting a $1,000 refund from the government, and it all goes to you instead.
Debt collection companies, like Rent Recovery Service, will help you collect the debt and will report it to the 3 major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). It is important to let the credit bureaus know about this dead-beat tenant so that future landlords will know to avoid him/her.
Bonus Video: An Overview of the Eviction Process
Protecting Yourself in the Future
Evictions can be costly and time-consuming, so hopefully you can avoid ever needing to perform one. You can protect yourself by gathering as much information as you can about potential tenants before they move in.
Cozy offers robust tenant screening tools that can help give you a more complete picture of your rental applicants. Best of all, they’re free for landlords, and just $34.95 for your applicants.
Tenant credit reports can give you a good sense of an applicant’s personal financial situation, and whether or not they’ll be able to pay rent reliably, on-time, every month. Meanwhile, background and eviction checks can help ensure you’re renting to a tenant that doesn’t have a criminal history and hasn’t been evicted in the past.