How long does it take for an eviction to show up on your record? Can you just rent a new place by passing the background check before the eviction is recorded?
When you’re dealing with an eviction, looking for a new place to live can be a challenge. With rental background checks being so common, an eviction can really hurt your chances of being approved for a new rental.
Here’s what you need to know about pending evictions, evictions, and rental background checks.
How Long Does It Take For An Eviction To Show Up On Your Record?
A court-ordered eviction takes from 1 week to 60 days to show on records available to tenant screening agencies.
When does an eviction go on your record? After the court orders your eviction, the judgment is entered and filed by the court clerk.
This could happen quickly or there could be a delay of a few days. Once the eviction has been filed by the clerk, it becomes a public record.
How soon the eviction record is picked up by background screening agencies depends on how quickly they update their records with information from each court jurisdiction.
Records from courts providing access to electronic records will be updated faster than records from courts using other methods.
What’s Included In A Tenant Screening Report?
A tenant background screening will usually include a credit report and criminal background check at a minimum. More comprehensive reports will also look for civil judgments. An eviction is a civil judgment.
Tenant screening agencies looking for eviction records might only include information currently in their database or they may make a direct inquiry with the courts covering your previous addresses to get the most up-to-date and complete information.
Before 2018, civil judgments also appeared on credit reports, meaning evictions were visible to landlords running basic background reports.
This is no longer the case, but any debt associated with an eviction judgment can be reported to a credit reference bureau by the landlord or collections agency.
Credit reference bureaus usually record reported debts within 30 days.
If you’re approved for a new rental before the eviction shows on your record, it’s unlikely the landlord will have any reason to run a further search on you.
While this reporting delay could give you enough time to find a new place to live, a background screening which includes a direct search of eviction court records will find a recent eviction.
Pending Evictions Appear On Your Record Right Away
What about evictions that are still underway? If you’ve received a notice to appear in court, can you just move out before the hearing date?
As soon as a landlord files eviction paperwork with a court, that filing becomes a public record. So even if your eviction hasn’t been finalized, a comprehensive tenant screening could easily discover the eviction.
If the background check looks for and finds your name in recent court filings, the pending eviction will be included in your rental background report.
A Notice To Vacate Is Not An Eviction
An eviction is a legal process. An eviction can only be ordered by a judge.
Landlords can file an eviction lawsuit when a tenant breaks the terms of their lease. Common reasons for eviction include unpaid rent, property damage, housing unauthorized occupants, criminal activity, and disrupting other tenants.
Before a landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court, they must issue a notice to vacate (sometimes called a notice to quit). A notice to vacate isn’t the same as an eviction notice.
If you’ve received a notice to vacate, legal eviction proceedings haven’t started yet. If you move out by the date given, the landlord can’t file for eviction. They can file a lawsuit for any unpaid rent, though.
Because an eviction on your record makes it much harder to get approvals for future rentals, you should get legal advice about complying with the notice to vacate.
Your landlord could even be willing to let you stay if you bring your rent payments up to date and you haven’t broken other lease conditions.
Applying for a new rental before the legal eviction process starts means you won’t have to worry about negative information showing on your tenant screening report.
Does Moving Out Stop Eviction Proceedings?
If you’ve received a notice to appear before the court, you may be able to reach an agreement with your landlord to stop the eviction proceedings and prevent a negative entry on your background report.
You’ll typically need to agree to move out quickly and pay any outstanding rent and other costs your landlord has incurred. Your landlord can then ask the court to dismiss the case.
A dismissed case can still appear on a background report. If a future rental application is turned down because of a dismissed eviction, you’ll need to notify the screening agency that the case was dismissed and ask them to remove the eviction from their records.
How Long Does An Eviction Stay On Your Record?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) governs the use of consumer reports compiled by consumer reporting agencies. Any agency providing tenant screening reports has to comply with FCRA rules.
Under the FCRA civil judgments, including evictions, can be reported on background reports for 7 years. After 7 years, they can’t give that information to a landlord using their service.
A landlord doesn’t have to use a tenant screening agency, though. They can search for information in public databases themselves.
FCRA reporting limits only apply to consumer reporting agencies. A landlord can go to a courthouse (or use the court’s electronic access where available) to check for evictions and find any records the court has no matter how old they are.
State or city laws may limit the use of older records, though.
Your credit report and credit score will also be impacted if you owe rent and the debt is reported to the credit bureaus. Unpaid debt also remains on your credit report for 7 years.
Can You Remove An Eviction From Your Record?
If you pay off an eviction does it come off your record? Paying off the money you owe may result in the eviction being removed. The rules for removing an eviction depend on the state you’re in.
Paying off your debt to the landlord won’t automatically remove the eviction from your record, you’ll need to apply to the court.
Before you pay the debt, you should get a legally binding commitment from the landlord that they will provide a settlement agreement to the court once the debt is paid in full.
Once you’ve paid the money you owe, you can ask the court to expunge your eviction record. If an expungement is granted, the court will seal your record, which means it’s no longer visible to the public or tenant screening agencies.
There’s no guarantee that the court will agree to an expungement, though. Judges have broad discretion in these cases.
It’s a good idea to consult with an attorney, who will be able to guide you through the process in your jurisdiction.
How To Rent With An Eviction On Your Record
If you’ve already got an eviction recorded against you, it’s going to be harder – but not impossible – to find a new rental.
A landlord may give you the chance to explain why the eviction occurred and what you’ve done to make amends.
Some landlords are willing to rent to tenants with evictions. They may ask you to pay a larger security deposit or provide a co-signer or guarantor.
Look for rentals handled by independent landlords. These landlords may be more flexible than property managers, and be willing to give you a chance.
Another option is to work with a rental agent who specializes in finding rentals for tenants with evictions and bad credit. Search online for “second chance rentals” to find agents in your area.
Once an eviction is ordered by a judge, the eviction will take anywhere from 1 week to 60 days to show up on your record.
If a screening agency or a landlord checks court records directly, they will be able to find the eviction as soon as the judgment has been filed by the clerk of the court.
Always try to reach an agreement with your landlord before legal proceedings begin. You may even be able to reach an agreement after the eviction lawsuit has been filed and ask for the case to be dismissed.
If your eviction is already finalized, it may be possible to have the judgment sealed if you pay the money you owe.
Charles Greg is the Co-Founder, Author, & Head Developer behind RentingtoFelons.org
With a lifelong passion for humanity.