If you have been evicted, finding a new place to live is not your only problem. An eviction could damage, at least indirectly, your credit score. Much of the impact on your credit will depend on how far the process goes and, if it is related to unpaid rent, whether your landlord takes the case to collections. Every situation is different, but the following will help you understand what to expect.
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Will a notice of eviction appear on my credit report?
Evictions do not appear on your credit report. A notice of eviction is your landlord’s declaration that they intend to evict you unless you take corrective action.
The most common eviction notice is a notice to pay or quit, given when a tenant misses a rent payment. It tells the tenant to pay within a certain number of days or the landlord will seek a court order. If you either pay what you owe or move out voluntarily, the eviction process ends.
In some situations, the eviction notice will not give you an opportunity to fix the problem. For example, if you damaged the property, the landlord may want you out as soon as possible. This still may not appear on your credit report as it is only the start of the legal process.
Will a court-obtained eviction judgment against me appear on my credit report?
If you lose in court after an eviction notice, a judge will enter an eviction judgment on behalf of your landlord. This is the official court order that the landlord is allowed to remove you from the premises if you fail to leave by a certain deadline.
While the eviction judgment is officially an eviction, it does not appear on your credit report. Your credit report reflects only financial debt and whether those debts have been repaid. The purpose of the eviction is to end the lease permitting the landlord to retake possession of their property.
While an eviction judgment does not appear on your credit report, it is still a public record. Most tenant background checks search public records for evictions, so prospective landlords may see the eviction when you apply for housing.
How much damage can an eviction do to my credit?
While an eviction does not directly affect your credit score, many evictions involve owing money to the landlord. This might be unpaid rent or damage to the property. Unlike other debts, your landlord will not typically report your rent history or late payments to a credit bureau.
What may impact your credit score is when the landlord sends unpaid debts to collections. A collections account can potentially reduce your credit score hundreds of points, depending on where you started. The impact lessens over time, and many newer scoring models ignore the collections account once paid back in full.
The court may also enter a civil judgment for rent, other charges, or court costs. Court judgments no longer appear on your credit report. Therefore, the court judgment itself may not lower your credit score. You may only see a score drop if the landlord also sent the debt to collections.
Can an eviction affect my credit even if I move out before it goes to court?
Again, the eviction itself does not impact your credit. Additionally, you have not been evicted if the court has not entered a judgment. If you agree to move out, you have not been evicted. Still, you may owe your landlord money that could be pursued through collections.
The COVID-19 eviction moratoriums bring up another potential scenario. Landlords may file for an eviction as soon as you are behind on rent. However, a landlord who cannot legally seek an eviction can still send a debt to collections, depending on the COVID-19 tenant protections in your area. This could lead to your credit score going down, even if you still live in the same unit.
The best thing to do if facing eviction is talk to your landlord, since they generally want to avoid the eviction process. You may be able to enter a Late Rent Payment Agreement that lets you avoid both an eviction and collections.
Protect your credit and your reputation as a tenant
When facing an eviction, finding a new place to live is just one challenge. While an eviction may not directly hurt your credit, it could lead to problems down the line. To learn more about your legal rights, how to approach your landlord, or how to respond to an eviction, ask a lawyer.
This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.