Eviction is the legal process in which a tenant is ordered by a court to leave a rental home so that the landlord can regain full control of her property. In many places, eviction is a public process that takes place in open court. If court records are open to public scrutiny, anyone can learn of an eviction and, in some cases, the fact that an eviction case was filed, even if the case was dismissed or the judge ruled in favor of the tenant. This information can be compiled into an eviction report by credit bureaus, background report companies, and tenant screening services. These companies can then sell this information to others, including landlords, property management companies, and even employers.
In many places, eviction can be a complex process that can take months to complete. During the eviction process, a landlord may have to spend a great deal of money on court fees, process servers, and trips to court, all during a time in which she may not be receiving any rent. For this reason, many landlords are understandably concerned about a tenant's rental history and may request that a prospective tenant undergo a background and credit screening as part of the rental application process. Landlords will usually check to see if a tenant has a history of eviction before approving a housing application. If an eviction report shows up, a landlord may be within her rights to deny the application or ask for an additional security deposit.
Tenants should be aware of the consequences of eviction, which can remain on their credit report and tenant screening files for many years after the eviction takes place. These consequences include damage to the credit score and lowered chances of finding a decent apartment. An eviction report may also hurt the tenant's chances of obtaining employment. If a tenant is served with eviction papers, he should do whatever he can to avoid eviction. He may first want to try and negotiate with his landlord, seek eviction mediation, or, if necessary, move out of the apartment on his own. If the case does go to court and he successfully defends himself against the eviction, he may be able to petition the court to expunge the eviction suit from public record so that it does not end up on an eviction report that can be made available to future landlords or creditors.