If you’ve received an eviction notice, you’re probably wondering how it will impact your credit. Will your score receive a blow the way it would with foreclosure? Or will the black mark not even show up on your credit report? Worst of all, what happens when you apply to rent another apartment? Will the landlord find out what’s happened?
In this article, we’ll discuss whether it’s possible to remove an eviction from your credit history, what to do if you’ve been evicted before, and how to avoid getting evicted in the first place. While it’s true that once a judge has ruled in favor of the landlord and that judgment is considered final, the three major credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — will receive notices of the eviction, it isn’t quite the end of the world.
Here’s what you need to know about how an eviction affects your credit.
Can I Remove an Eviction From My Credit History?
Unfortunately, no. Public records such as bankruptcies, tax liens and civil court judgments, like evictions, stay on your credit report for seven years from the filing date and will do some serious damage to your credit score. This is why it’s crucial to monitor your credit.
Collection accounts are also listed in the public records section of your credit report, so if you failed to pay rent and your account was handed over to a debt collector, a collection account for your unpaid rent will appear there. These collection accounts will remain on your credit report for seven years from the original delinquency date of the debt, according to Experian.
What Can I Do If I’ve Been Evicted Before?
If you’ve been evicted from a townhouse, apartment or rental home, it may be difficult to qualify for a new rental if a potential landlord checks your credit history. (Not sure if your eviction is listed? You can find out by requesting your annual credit report for free. You can also view your free credit report snapshot on Credit.com.)
Many landlords use tenant-screening services on future renters, and it is likely a screening company would inform a landlord or property manager of your past eviction, with or without a credit check. Tenant-screening services track down where you lived in the past and whether you paid your rent as agreed.
If you have an eviction hampering your ability to find a place to live, you have a few options: You can try to find a private landlord who doesn’t use screening services or check credit history; find a cosigner with good credit to live with; or live with friends who already have a home and history of good payments. You can also try negotiating with a potential landlord by offering a large security deposit.
Try to Make Amends
If you were evicted for unpaid rent, the best way to make amends is to reach out to your former landlord or collection agency and make up those missed payments. Doing so could make finding a new place easier, especially if you note in your credit reports that you are trying to reimburse the missed payments.
How to Avoid Eviction in the First Place
Abiding by your rental agreement is the most important thing you can do to avoid being evicted. Your agreement is a legally binding contract, so understanding everything expected of you — from maintenance of the property to noise restrictions and timely rent payment — is critical, as is knowing the tenant laws in your state.
If you have problems, talk to your landlord as soon as possible. Things happen, but landlords often appreciate knowing you want to do the right thing, and communication is essential. Also keep in mind that finding new tenants is a hassle most landlords would rather avoid. They can often be willing to work with you, but you have to take the first step.
This article has been updated. It was first published Jan. 23, 2014.