How To Dispute An Eviction On Credit Report

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manny

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Published on October 22, 2020

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Nobody wants to get evicted from their homes. However, it happens more than expected and for different reasons. Unfortunately, it can also affect your credit record.

 If you’ve faced such an unfortunate circumstance, you know how difficult it is to repair your damaged credit rating, not to mention its negative effects on your loan and tenancy applications. But if there were extenuating circumstances, and you’ve been treated unfairly during the entire process, you have the option to dispute eviction-related information on your credit report. 

 Below you’ll find information on how to file a dispute and how to get an eviction removed from your record.

Will an Eviction Record Show Up on Your Credit Report?

The eviction itself will not show up on credit reports. However, actions that may have been taken or resulted in your eviction may appear on your credit report. 

For example:

  • If your landlord has tapped the services of a third-party collection agency to collect your unpaid rent. 
  • If your landlord took legal action against you in court.  

Although the actual eviction record won’t show up in your credit report, the information may still be recorded somewhere else:

  • Tenant screening reports
  • Court records
  • Background checks

Your eviction record may appear on a tenant screening report, which is provided by the rental screening company hired by a landlord or apartment complex that owns the new place you want to rent.

If you submitted a rental application, your landlord may find your eviction record in any of the following rental reporting bureaus: 

 These reports offer in-depth information about the prospective tenant’s eviction history that come from a wide variety of sources including public records. The details may include the following:

  • Rental payment history
  • Warrants of eviction
  • Judgements
  • Criminal records

Additionally, if you were sued by your landlord or apartment complex for unpaid lease payments and they won a judgment against you, the judgment will become a matter of public record

 Such information will remain on your record for up to seven years. Because of this, you might find it difficult to secure a loan approval or qualify for renting a property if you’ve been tagged as an evictee.

Can You Proactively Check Your Rental History?

Yes, you can. It’s better to know if the information included in your rental history report is accurate before submitting a rental application. Given that landlords have become more vigilant in checking rental history of possible renters, you must check the report yourself and see if you need to take certain measures to have inaccurate items removed like an eviction record. 

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you’re entitled to one free copy of your rental history report. However, there are several companies in the market that your landlord might hire, so it’s better to ask them which one they use. Here’s a list from the Consumer Finance Protection Board.

What are Your Rights as a Tenant?

Housing laws may vary from one state to another but one thing’s for sure: Landlords cannot evict you from their rental property without following the formal eviction process in your area. You have the right to fight eviction and stay in the house while doing so.

 Here’s an example of the proper eviction process in Washington State:

1. Landlords have to properly serve an eviction notice, which may include but not limited to the following:

  • 14 days to pay your dues or vacate the property
  • 10 days to adhere to the lease agreement or vacate the place
  • 3 days for waste or nuisance, which is a gross offence
  • 20 days for tenancy termination

2.   Once the eviction notice has expired and you’re still in the property, the landlord will ask the help of a third-party individual or group to serve you the eviction lawsuit, which contains two documents called “Summons and Complaints.”

3. During or after the delivery of the “Summons and Complaint,” you may also receive a Sworn Statement Requirement asking you to submit a sworn statement with the court or settle your unpaid debt with the landlord within the specified time period. 

4. You may also receive a notice indicating when you need to appear in court. The show cause hearing gives you an opportunity to defend yourself and raise any concerns or grievances that you may have against your landlord.

5. If you lose in the civil case, a judgment will be issued indicating how much you owe in rent, as well as fees like attorney’s fees and court fees. You have to vacate the property if a writ of resolution is issued.

Additionally, the Fair Housing Act also protects you, as a renter or tenant, against landlord discrimination. Therefore, you cannot be evicted because of your race or color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability.

What are Valid Reasons to be Evicted?

Eviction is a civil process taken by a landlord to legally remove a tenant from their rental property. Different situations that could lead to an eviction include the following:

  • Non-payment of rent
  • Breaches to the rental agreement
  • Damage to property
  • Health and safety violations
  • Refusal to move out of the property after the end of the lease

Among these reasons, the most common cause of eviction is the failure to pay rent.

Is there a way you can have the Unscrupulous Landlord Blacklisted?

There’s no landlord blacklist yet, but if you’ve been wrongfully evicted or if you believe that your rights have been violated, you should get in touch with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in your area. 

The Fair Housing Act states that renters must be treated fairly, and any violation of this law is considered a serious offense. Contact your local housing authority right away. 

You can file a complaint against your landlord with the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO)

  • Online – lodge a complaint online
  • Email – download the complaint form from the HUD website, fill up the necessary information and email it to your local FHEO office
  • Phone – call your local FHEO office to file a complaint 
  • Mail – print out and fill  up the complaint form and mail it to your local FHEO office 

Don’t forget to provide all the pertinent details when you file a complaint. These include, but not limited to the following:

  • Your name and address
  • Name and address of your landlord
  • A detailed description of your grievance against the landlord

How to Get an Eviction Removed from Your Record

As previously explained, your eviction record may not appear on your credit report. However, this information may still be obtained through a tenant screening company or court records. Likewise, if your former landlord sold your unpaid debt to a collection agency, then the collection account will appear on your credit report.

Here’s what you need to do to get your eviction expunged from public records:

  1. Petition the court in the county where the eviction case was filed to have the eviction expunged from your record. 
  2. Prove that the eviction notice served to you by the landlord was invalid or illegal. You’ll have higher chances of winning your case if the court finds that the eviction did not have any legal basis. 
  3. Prove that you did not breach the rental agreement. 
  4. Know the eviction process and if your landlord followed the process of eviction as the law in your state. If your landlord failed to adhere to the legal procedure, make sure you have the necessary proof to back it up like photos and notices.  

 If you want to dispute any eviction-related information on your credit report, you should contact your credit bureau either by mail, phone, or online. When you submit a dispute, make sure to explain the errors and provide all the details and evidence to support your claim.

  Here’s what you need to do when disputing errors in your credit report.

  1. Submit a letter detailing the information that you believe is incorrect. 
  2. The letter must also include your complete name, address, explanation of why you are disputing the information, and a request to remove the information from your credit report. 
  3. Include copies of documents that support your claim. Get the documents that prove your eviction has been expunged from the public record. In case you and your landlord were able to settle things amicably and your eviction suit was dismissed, be sure to have the documents to back it up.

You’ll have to submit a separate credit dispute along with the necessary documentation to each credit bureau. Follow the instructions given to you by each credit bureau. Credit bureaus are required to investigate disputes within 30 days. Follow up the status of your dispute in case the credit bureau fails to get back to you within 30-60 days.

If the eviction information on the tenant screening report is incorrect, you have to get in touch with the tenant screening company directly. You can also talk to your landlord and settle any debt you have. In turn, the landlord will issue a notarized statement that you have paid your debt.

Some prospective landlords also ask for references or the list of your previous landlords. When you’ve settled the issue with your former landlord, they can set the record straight when someone contacted them for reference on your tenancy application.

Is there a Time Window within which You Need to Dispute?

Credit reporting companies have a responsibility to investigate all valid disputes within 30 days. Once they’ve gathered all the needed information from the complainant, the credit report company will forward the data to the provider of the information that was used as the basis for the credit report. The latter will investigate and review the information they provided and get the results back to the credit reporting company. 

 If the information is indeed inaccurate, the information provider will get in touch with all credit reporting agencies so that your credit report will be corrected. They will inform you of the results and whether an item was corrected or removed. It will not be reverted unless the data furnisher can confirm and prove that the previous information was correct.

If the information is indeed inaccurate, the information provider will get in touch with all credit reporting agencies so that your credit report will be corrected. They will inform you of the results and whether an item was corrected or removed. It will not be reverted unless the data furnisher can confirm and prove that the previous information was correct.

Does Filing a Dispute Cost you Anything?

You don’t have to pay anything for filing a dispute. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers have the right to dispute with the consumer reporting agency the accuracy or completeness of any information in their report. The process involved in disputing credit reports is different between credit reporting agencies.

How to Avoid Eviction in the First Place

As always, prevention is the better option. You can avoid getting evicted from the property you’re renting by taking the right measures. These include making timely rental payments, maintaining the property, and following the terms of your rental agreement. 

 If you find yourself facing financial hardship and you think you won’t be able to meet the payment deadline, talk to your landlord right away. Landlords are humans, too. They understand that things don’t always go your way. Most of them appreciate tenants who are honest and upfront, especially when it comes to paying rent. Your landlord can help you out by creating a new payment scheme that’s more suitable for your current financial situation. 

 Communication is key here. Landlords prefer long-term tenants rather than go through the hassle of finding and screening new tenants. In most cases, landlords are willing to help—you just have to take the first step and talk to them.

Conclusion

Your credit report may not show your eviction record, but it may still reflect a collection account for all missed or late lease payments. Collection accounts will remain on your credit report for seven years, which will have a negative impact on your credit score. If left unpaid, you may find it difficult to get your rental application or loan approved in the future. So, you must do what you have to do to prevent that from happening or to remove the bad records.

 Do you have a wrongful eviction on your credit report? How has it affected your tenancy or ability to borrow money? Share your experience in the comments below!

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