Your landlord can evict you from your rental unit and submit your details to a tenant screening service. Landlords usually use these screening services to evaluate a prospective tenant. An eviction record means that you are a risky tenant, and other landlords may reject your tenancy application.
How Tenant Screening Is Done
A landlord needs your driver’s license number, last known address, Social Security number and your consent to carry out a credit and background check, but do note that the Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from using a person’s race, color, gender, age, and sexual orientation to conduct a background check. People who violate this rule can be prosecuted, and any record arising from a discriminatory eviction will be expunged.
Civil Court Eviction Decisions
A recent eviction will appear on your credit report. Banks and other lending institutions can access this record and use it to determine your financial situation. Most evictions appear on tenant screening services within a month of a court rendering its judgment and ordering you to vacate the dwellings. In some cases, it may take up to three months before it can register on eviction records.
The eviction record can appear even if the landlord doesn’t report it. That’s because tenant screening services and credit bureaus constantly update their records and are always checking public records.
Your landlord can’t evict you if you leave voluntarily. Legally, an eviction can only occur if you refuse to vacate the dwellings after receiving a legal notice from the property manager. The legal notice won’t register on eviction records, but the subsequent court eviction order will. Therefore, the landlord must go to court to have you forcibly removed from the premises.
In some counties, the court doesn’t have to give an order for an eviction to register on public records. Just going to court is enough for the record bureaus to list you on eviction records, but this may be reversed if your landlord loses the case.
However, many tenant listing bureaus fail to carry out a follow-up verification of a listing. This can lead to inaccurate listings.
In other words, you can win the eviction case but still appear on eviction records.
Eviction Listing Time Frame
You will be listed on an eviction record for a period not exceeding seven years. The Fair Credit Reporting Act stipulates that a person’s tenancy history must be revised every seven years.
The best way to avoid the seven-year trap is to leave voluntarily or negotiate with your landlord. As a tenant, it is advisable to take your landlord’s notices seriously.
California Eviction Process
California law states that your landlord must legally end the tenancy before they can evict you. To accomplish this, the landlord must give you a written and signed notice. The notice may direct you to vacate the premises or fix your unpleasant habits, such as making late rent payments or owning pets. If you fail to do what the landlord has demanded, he or she can take the matter to court.
In some cases, your landlord does not need to give you written notice. For example, if you have an annual fixed-tenancy agreement that ends on the last day of December and you haven’t applied for a lease continuation, your landlord won’t have to give you the notice to vacate before or on the last day of December.
California law is very specific when it comes to terminating the tenancy. There are many types of tenancy termination procedures and notices for different categories of tenancy situations. Homeowner associations can also create extra regulations on how a tenancy agreement can be terminated.
Your property manager can choose to terminate your tenancy earlier than expected. Your landlord can take this action if you fail to pay rent on time, engage in illegal acts or violate your lease terms. The grounds for tenancy termination will determine the type of notice to be issued.
Three-Day Rent Payment Notice
If you fail to pay your rent on time, your landlord can give you a three-day notice to vacate or pay rent. This notice confirms that you have three days to clear your rent arrears. If you fail to pay or move out, your landlord can go to court to have you evicted.
Three-Day to Cure
If you violate your lease agreement, your landlord can serve you with a three-day notification to cure. This notice gives you three days to solve the violation. If you fail to do this, the landlord can seek legal redress.
Unconditional Quit Notice
Your landlord can create this notice if you violate specific tenancy agreements. This notice means that you must move out within three days. You are not required to fix the violation, and if you fail to vacate within three days, the landlord can seek a court judgment. Some of the specific tenancy violations include:
- You have sublet the unit contrary to the tenancy agreement.
- You have caused significant damage to the premises.
- You have become a nuisance at the property.
- You have committed a crime at the property.
Notice to Terminate Tenancy Without Cause
The reasons for terminating a tenancy agreement without cause depend on whether the agreement is a fixed term or month-to-month.
Month-to-Month Rental Agreement
If you have a month-to-month rental contract with your landlord, then your landlord must give a written 30-day termination notification. If the contract has been in operation for more than 18 months, then your landlord must send a 60-day notification to terminate the tenancy. Both notices must clearly state that your tenancy agreement will be nullified at the end of the notice period. If your tenancy agreement is longer than a month, your landlord can’t nullify it without cause. For example, if your lease ends in December, your landlord can’t terminate it in November.
The Eviction Hearing
You will be served with the eviction hearing paperwork after your landlord has filed the lawsuit. The court will direct that you submit a written response within a certain period. You can choose to deny or confirm the statements made by the landlord. If you fail to respond to the charges, the judge will give a ruling that is favorable to the landlord. If you submit a written response, then the court will set a hearing date. Each party will present its arguments and the judge will deliver the final verdict.
How You Can Defend Against an Eviction
There are many potential defenses you can use to fight the eviction in court, which will lengthen the duration of the lawsuit. The most common one is to list the procedural errors your landlord has committed during the course of the eviction. For example, the landlord could have submitted the notice too late or filed the lawsuit too early.
Another potential defense is that your landlord did not maintain the dwellings as expected, or that the property manager discriminated against you.
Removal From the Property
A landlord can’t evict you from their property without the approval of the court. A landlord must win an unlawful detainer lawsuit or an eviction lawsuit before they can force you to leave the property. Even if you lose the eviction lawsuit, it is only a sheriff who can actually remove you from the property. This is because California law prohibits landlords from personally removing tenants from the property.
If you move out of the property and leave behind some of your belongings, your landlord must inform you. You will have at least 15 days to collect them. However, the law allows the landlord to charge for the storage. If you fail to collect your belongings at the end of the 15 days, your landlord can dispose of them.
Implementation of the Rules
Your landlord must adhere to all the procedures and regulations stipulated by California law. Violating any of the eviction rules will invalidate the eviction. The reason these rules exist is that many evictions happen very quickly. These regulations ensure that you are given ample time to search for a new dwelling.
How to Remove an Eviction From Your Record
An eviction record can severely ruin your ability to find a rental unit in the future. Therefore, expunging an eviction from your credit records is paramount.
You can clean your records by reopening the eviction lawsuit and presenting new evidence. Unfortunately, this process is not viable if you actually violated your tenancy agreements. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to reopen the case anyway because an eviction record can turn your life upside-down.
1. Preempt the Record
If you lose an eviction lawsuit, you still have two months to act before the eviction registers on your credit record. You can use the two-month grace period to look for a new house to stay or try to stop the eviction from being made public. Some tenant associations or advocacy groups can help you seek legal remedies.
Even if more than two months have elapsed since the eviction was granted, you can still have the eviction deleted from your credit records. You can show that the eviction lawsuit was flawed or you weren’t able to defend yourself properly. If this is the course of action you prefer, you’ll have to file a lawsuit at a superior court. You can get petition forms online or at the county court office. You can also have your records expunged if you can prove that you were undergoing domestic violence and had to move out.
2. Talk to Your Landlord
If there are genuine disagreements between you and the landlord, you may be able to get a mutual settlement. The court may even assign a mediator to sort out your differences and come up with a workable solution.
Once you have come up with a mutual agreement, your landlord can allow you to apply for an eviction record expungement. You should document all the mediation proceedings, such as payment receipts, your mutual agreement and the landlord’s consent. You will need these documents to support your expungement application.
3. Amending Your Records Afterward
If your efforts to have your eviction records expunged are successful, there are two types of public records you will have to clear: court records and credit reports.
If you were evicted without due procedure, you can request the credit reporting agencies to clear your eviction records. You can gather your supporting documents and start an online dispute resolution process. Some of the credit reporting agencies that have online dispute resolution mechanisms include Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
A favorable ruling allows you to have your eviction records removed from credit reports completely, as well as all public court records. Also, if you have reached an agreement with your former landlord, you can apply for expungement, but this route may not be successful.
A ruling favorable to your landlord is rarely sealed unless the court determines that your right to privacy is greater than the public’s right to know.
How to Search Eviction Records
You can check eviction records to see if you are listed. The State of California has a website where all civil court records are archived. Some counties retain the records at the county level instead of submitting them to the state archives, so search for the website of the court where your eviction case was heard and fill in your details — your last address, driver’s license number and Social Security number.
You can run the search using your full name or different combinations of your name. For example, you can add or remove the middle initial of your name. If you changed your name recently, you should also run a search using your new name.
Another way to search your eviction records is to visit the court in person. Sometimes, court websites redact records or fail to provide a comprehensive database. If you find a redacted eviction record that you believe is yours, you can call or visit the court clerk’s office and ask for the full version. You can also mail a request.
Landlords or property managers often employ the services of online tenant screening services, which carry out extensive background checks for a fee. An eviction in your record may reduce your chances of renting a property, so it’s best to contact Express Evictions for help.