Landlords and property managers often find it necessary to file a complaint against a tenant in civil or housing court in order to evict the tenant for cause. This action may stem from late or unpaid rent, violation of lease terms, criminal activity in the property, or a landlord-initiated request to vacate ignored by the tenant.
Regardless of the cause of action against the tenant, this court filing will often show up on the Tenant/Defendant’s credit report for 7 years. However, in some states the case must result in a Plaintiff Judgment (a default/summary judgment, a judgment after trial, or a stipulated or settled judgment in favor of the Plaintiff) in order to be eligible to appear on a Tenant Credit Report.
In some states the courts go one step further by sealing eviction cases from public viewing if the case does not meet the criteria for reporting under that state’s Consumer Credit Reporting Act. In this instance, data aggregators and CRA’s will not have a record of the eviction proceedings in their databases. This means cases filed but never reaching judgment would also be excluded from the database, and the eviction would go unreported on the Tenant/Defendant’s credit report.
For all parties involved it is imperative that cases reach a final disposition. For tenants who are not at fault for the eviction or who resolve the matter before trial (by proving no-fault, by paying the rent, by moving as promised, etc.), a dismissal or a defendant judgment after trial results in a fair resolution of the case and preservation of their good credit. For landlords who have a valid cause of action against the tenant, a summary or default judgment for possession of the premises, or a judgment for possession or money (or both), will result in a reportable action on the tenant’s credit report.
Landlords and property management companies that depend on high quality tenant screening results to properly screen their prospective tenants should be diligent about taking all of their eviction matters to a final judgment. For more information on your local and state FCRA requirements, please refer to http://www.courtcheck.com/fcrabystate.pdf 1 for a summary and links to pertinent code sections.
American Information Research Services, Inc. is a data aggregator specializing in eviction data. For more information on purchasing eviction data please click here to contact us or visit our website http://www.amer-info.com.
1 Courtesy of courtcheck.com
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