If you stop paying your rent or don't follow the terms of your lease, your landlord may evict you from your apartment. A previous eviction makes finding a new apartment much more difficult, as prospective landlords are hesitant to rent to individuals with prior evictions. Although finding an apartment after an eviction is more challenging, it isn't an impossible goal even if you were forcibly removed from your last one.
Prospective landlords generally discover previous evictions when they conduct a background check that includes a credit inquiry. Formal evictions are a part of the public record, and an eviction judgment shows up on your credit file. However, not all evictions are a matter of public record. If your landlord gave you an eviction notice and you complied with the request without contesting it, the eviction isn't likely a matter of public record. Provided future landlords do not contact your previous landlord, an eviction that did not involve legal proceedings won't stand between you and a new apartment.
When you were evicted from your apartment has a considerable impact on whether the eviction will complicate your search for new rental housing. The credit bureaus periodically scan court records and update your credit report with any new public records they find, including judgments and bankruptcies. The amount of time this process takes varies, but if you act quickly, you can find a new apartment before the credit bureaus update your credit report to reflect the previous eviction.
Old evictions also may not pose a problem. Judgments remain on your credit record for seven years or the length of time your state permits creditors to enforce those judgments, whichever is longer. An old judgment that is no longer on your credit file isn't a threat to you when you go apartment hunting.
Find a Co-signer
The reason landlords are hesitant to rent to individuals with previous evictions on record is that they fear a person who failed to pay his rent on time in the past is more likely to do so again. If a friend or family member co-signs the apartment lease with you, the landlord can legally hold the co-signer responsible for any rent you fail to pay. This minimizes the landlord's risk. Although having a willing co-signer with good credit doesn't guarantee that every landlord will be willing to rent to you following an eviction, a co-signer greatly increases your chances of getting approved for new rental housing.
Explain Your Circumstances
Perhaps your eviction was the result of a job loss, or maybe an extended illness left you unable to pay your rent. If your eviction was the result of circumstances beyond your control rather than simple carelessness, explaining the situation to a prospective landlord increases the odds that the landlord will be willing to overlook past mistakes that aren't likely to be repeated. If explaining your circumstances isn't enough to sway your landlord, consider offering a larger security deposit or allowing the landlord to draft rent payments directly from your bank account. Both actions further minimize the lender's risk and can help you get approved for an apartment regardless of your previous rental mistakes.
- Experian: Judgment for Eviction Could Appear on Your Credit Report
- Utah Legal Services: Eviction -– What's the Worst That Can Happen to Me?
- United States Government Accountability Office: Federal Tax Debts -– Factors for Considering a Proposal to Report Tax Debts to Credit Bureaus
- Federal Trade Commission: The Fair Credit Reporting Act (Section 605/p.22)
- LuckyRenter: When Do I Need a Co-signer for My Lease?
- MainST: 3 Tips to Rent an Apartment With Bad Credit
Ciele Edwards holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been a consumer advocate and credit specialist for more than 10 years. She currently works in the real-estate industry as a consumer credit and debt specialist. Edwards has experience working with collections, liens, judgments, bankruptcies, loans and credit law.