Getting evicted from an apartment can make it difficult to find a new place to live and it can hurt your ability to get new credit if your landlord obtains an eviction judgment against you in court.
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, receive notices of the eviction. And the eviction is added to the “public records” section of your credit report.
Can I Remove an Eviction From My Credit History?
Unfortunately, no. Public records (such as bankruptcies and tax liens), and civil court judgments (such as evictions) stay on your credit report for seven years from the filing date and do some serious damage to your credit score.
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 would appear here. These collection accounts 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 Already Been Evicted?
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. (If you don’t know if your eviction is listed on your credit reports, you can check by requesting your free annual credit reports. You can also view your free credit report snapshot, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)
Plus, many landlords use tenant screening services to screen future renters and it is likely that 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 have lived in the past and whether you have paid your rent as agreed. If you have an eviction that is hampering your abilities to find a place to live, you have a few options: You can try to find a private landlord that doesn’t use screening services or check credit history (these are harder and harder to find these days); you can find a cosigner with good credit to live with, or try living with friends who already have a home and history of good payments there, or; you can try negotiating with a potential landlord by offering to give them a larger 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 for those missed payments. Doing so could make finding a new place easier, especially if you note in your credit reports that you have or are trying to make up for the missed payments.
Most landlords will be unwilling to lease to a tenant who has been evicted from another rental and hasn’t made an effort to pay off the debt, according to TransUnion.
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 that is expected of you — from maintenance of the property, noise restrictions and timely rent payment — is critical, as is knowing the tenant laws in your state. If you encounter problems, try talking to your landlord as soon as possible. Things happen — unexpected bills arise and mistakes are made — but landlords often appreciate knowing that you are trying to do the right thing, and communicating with them is essential. Also keep in mind that finding new tenants is a hassle most landlords would prefer to avoid, so 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.