Are you in the middle of an eviction process now? Or have you just received your rental judgment? If you answered yes to one of those questions, you have come to the right place. In this blog, you will find all the necessary information to understand the process better, know your rights, seek help, pay off your debt, and increase your chances of renting again.
An eviction is a court-ordered removal of a tenant from the property in which they reside. In other words, it is a legal process a landlord uses to remove a tenant from rented property. A landlord can terminate a tenancy and evict the tenant for a variety of reasons, like
Most states, including the cheapest states to live in, require landlords to give their tenants a written notice of rental termination. Once you receive the written notice of an impending eviction, you must vacate the apartment or negotiate a repayment arrangement. If you fail to leave the property or arrange a repayment plan, the landlord may file for an eviction in court.
Consequently, during the eviction process, the court may order your removal. If the court does issue a removal order, you may be forcibly removed from the property.
A rental judgment is a legal ruling made by a court in a tenant-landlord dispute. It occurs when a tenant has failed to pay rent or has broken the terms of their rental agreement, and the property owner has taken legal action to recover what is owed.
Typically, the court will order the tenant to move out and may also award the landlord additional damages such as back rent, late fees, and damage costs.
The court order will often include an amount the tenant must pay the landlord to satisfy the debt. Additionally, the landlord may pursue further action if the tenant does not comply with the rental judgment. This could include wage garnishment, freezing of bank accounts, or other collection methods.
A rental judgment can have long-lasting consequences for tenants. It can affect their credit score and limit their ability to secure future rental housing. It can also make applying for loans, credit cards, and other financial products challenging.
Eviction debt, also known as a money judgment, is the sum of rent money the tenant is legally required to pay the landlord, plus interest. In other words, it is the amount you have missed paying when renting. If you also fail to pay off your eviction debt, collection agencies can start collecting the judgment. To avoid such unpleasant circumstances, you need to be informed about the different ways you can pay off your debt.
Paying off eviction debt can seem overwhelming, but it is possible to manage it. The first step is understanding your rights as a tenant and ensuring the eviction is processed correctly. That said, here are five ways to pay off eviction debt:
First, it’s always best to talk to the landlord who filed the judgment against you. For instance, if you are being evicted for non-payment, explain why you could not pay the rent. The landlord may be willing to set up a payment plan and remove the judgment. If they agree, make sure you get it in writing so you have proof of the agreement.
If you struggle to negotiate a settlement with the landlord, contact a credit counselor for help. A credit counselor can help you create a money and debt management plan. A credit counselor will audit your income, debt, and expenses to help you develop a budget to improve your financial circumstances.
As a result, if you set up a repayment plan with your landlord, a credit counselor can help you take actionable steps to manage your funds appropriately to meet your payment terms.
Another option is to seek assistance from a nonprofit organization or government agency, such as the Legal Services Corporation, which helps tenants find a legal aid clinic near them. Some nonprofits, such as the Community Development Corporation and the Resident Relief Foundation, provide rental assistance to qualified tenants during financial hardships.
Consider contacting the court or collection agency that issued the judgment report to make sure that the judgment is accurate and up to date. If it is not, you may be able to dispute it with the credit bureau or collection agency and have it removed. However, only verifiable mistakes can be disputed and possibly removed.
That said, the Fair Credit Reporting Act allows individuals to dispute inaccurate judgments on their credit reports directly with the credit bureaus or creditors. To do so, you must complete the dispute form on each credit agency’s website. After you submit the dispute, the credit reporting company must investigate your claim within 30 days. If the bureau finds the information correct, they will remove the collection account from your report.
If the collection account is accurate, you can clarify with the agency how much is owed and by when. Then, figure out how much you can pay every month and adjust your budget accordingly. Afterward, set up a payment plan with the collection agency and make timely repayments. In addition, make sure to document everything and have a written copy of your agreement contract to protect yourself in case something unexpected happens.
When you have paid off all your debt, request a letter of completion from the collection agency. Then, check your credit report to ensure your account has been accurately updated. However, keep in mind that changes may not appear for 30 days.
When you pay off a debt, the debt collection agency will notify the credit reporting agencies that your account is now paid in full. Nonetheless, keep your letter of completion in a safe place if you ever need to provide proof in the future.
Another option is to get a lawyer to help you understand your rights and options and any potential defenses you may have. A housing attorney may negotiate a settlement that can result in the judgment being removed from your record or reduced so that it won’t harm your rental history.
You can utilize the following legal resources if you find yourself struggling to pay off eviction debt:
An eviction won’t affect your credit score if your landlord doesn’t report your eviction to any of the three consumer reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
However, if your displacement was caused by your failure to pay rent, your landlord can sell your debt to a collection agency, which then reports your debt to the three credit bureaus. If the outstanding debt is sent to a collection company, it will appear on your credit report and negatively affect your score.
However, if you have been wrongly evicted, you can dispute the collections account, and you may be able to remove it from your credit report.
Eviction orders have appeared in public records for seven years, such as on tenant-screening services, background checks, and government websites. Landlords can use the information on these websites to screen potential tenants. As a result, an eviction on your rental record can also hurt your chances of renting another property in the future.
If you have been recently served with an eviction notice or a collection notification, there are immediate steps that you can take. First, reach out to your landlord and try to negotiate a payment plan. Next, contact the collection agency to dispute or pay off your debt. You may also want to check out our budgeting tips for renting an apartment to minimize the risk of dealing with eviction debt in the future.
If an eviction lawsuit has not been filed against you, you can:
If an eviction lawsuit has been filed against you, you can:
If the court has ordered your removal, you can:
|Location||Legal Aid||Financial Assistance|
|Alabama||Legal Services Alabama, Inc.|
Alabama Legal Help
|Alabama Emergency Rental Assistance Program|
Alabama 2-1-1/United Way
|Alaska||Alaska Legal Services Corporation|
Alaska Native Justice Center
|Alaska Housing Relief|
|Arkansas||Arkansas Legal Services Online|
Arkansas Judiciary Self-Help Resources
|Arkansas Rent Relief Program|
Arkansas Community Action Agencies Association
|Arizona||Arizona Law Help|
Arizona Courts Self-Service Center
|Arizona Emergency Rental Assistance Program|
|California||Bay Area Legal Aid|
California Courts Self-Help Center
|St. Joseph’s Family Center|
|Colorado||Colorado Legal Services|
Colorado Judicial Branch Self-Help/Forms
|Colorado Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)|
|Connecticut||Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut, Inc.|
Connecticut Law Help
|Connecticut United Way/2-1-1|
|Washington, District of Columbia||Neighborhood Legal Services Program of the District of Columbia|
Law Help DC
|211 Answers, Please! of Washington DC|
|Delaware||Legal Services Corporation of Delaware, Inc.|
Delaware Community Legal Aid Society
|Delaware Covid-19 Rental Assistance from DEHAP|
|Florida||Florida Legal Services|
Florida Law Help
|Opportunities for Utilities and Rental Assistance (OUR) Florida|
|Georgia||Georgia Legal Aid|
Georgia Free Legal Answers online clinic
|Georgia Rental Assistance|
United Way/211 of Greater Atlanta
|Hawaii||Legal Aid Society of Hawaii|
Law Help Hawaii
|Aloha United Way 2-1-1|
Hawaii County Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)
|Iowa||Iowa Legal Aid|
Iowa COVID-19 Legal Advice Hotline
|Iowa Rent and Utility Assistance Program|
|Idaho||Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc.|
Idaho Court Assistance Office and Self-Help Center
|Idaho Rental Assistance|
|Illinois||Eviction Help Illinois|
Illinois Legal Aid Online
|Illinois Rental Payment Program|
|Indiana||Indiana Legal Services, Inc.|
Indiana Self-Service Legal Center
|Indiana Emergency Rental Assistance|
Indiana COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program
|Kansas||Kansas Legal Services, Inc.|
Kansas Courts Self-Help for public
|Kansas Emergency Rental Assistance Program|
2-1-1 of Kansas
|Kentucky||Legal Aid Network of Kentucky|
Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky
|Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund|
Kentucky United Way/2-1-1
|Louisiana||Louisiana Civil Legal Navigator|
Louisiana Law Help
|Louisiana Emergency Rental Assistance Program (LERAP)|
|Massachusetts||Massachusetts COVID Eviction Legal Help|
Massachusetts Legal Help
|Massachusetts Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)|
|Maryland||Maryland Legal Aid|
The People’s Law Library of Maryland
|Maryland Emergency Rental Assistance Program|
|Maine||Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Inc.|
Maine Judicial Branch Self-Help
|MaineHousing Emergency Rent Relief Program|
|Michigan||Michigan Legal Help|
Michigan Courts Self-Help Center
|Michigan COVID Emergency Rental Assistance (CERA)|
|Minnesota||Rent Help Minnesota|
United Way/2-1-1 of Minnesota
|Rent Help Minnesota|
United Way/2-1-1 of Minnesota
|Missouri||Missouri Legal Services|
Missouri Free Legal Answers online clinic
|Missouri Rent Assistance (SAFHR for Renters)|
Missouri State Assistance for Housing Relief (SAFHR) Program
|Mississippi||Mississippi Legal Services|
Mississippi Judiciary Legal Help
|Mississippi Emergency Rental Assistance Program|
211/United Way of the Capital Area
|Montana||Montana Legal Services Association|
Montana Legal Services Association’s Tenant Letter-Writer
|Montana Emergency Rental Assistance|
|North Carolina||Legal Aid of North Carolina, Inc.|
Law Help North Carolina
|North Carolina’s Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions Program (HOPE)|
North Carolina United Way /211
|North Dakota||Legal Services of North Dakota|
North Dakota Courts Self-Help Center
|ND Rent Help|
Community Action Partnership of North Dakota
|Nebraska||Legal Aid of Nebraska|
Nebraska Judicial Online Self-Help Center
|Nebraska Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program|
211/ Heartland United Way
|New Hampshire||New Hampshire Legal Aid|
New Hampshire Judicial Self-Help Center
|New Hampshire Emergency Rental Assistance Program (NHERAP)|
New Hampshire 211
|New Jersey||Legal Services of New Jersey|
Volunteer Lawyers for Justice
|New Jersey COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program|
New Jersey 2-1-1
|New Mexico||New Mexico Legal Aid|
Law Help New Mexico
|New Mexico Emergency Rental Assistance Program|
United Way/2-1-1 of Central New Mexico
|Nevada||Nevada Legal Services, Inc.|
Nevada Law Help
|Nevada CARES Housing Assistance Program (CHAP)|
|New York||NYC Tenant Protection Hotline|
Right to Counsel hotline and free lawyer referral
|New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)|
211 New York State
|Ohio||Ohio Legal Help|
Pro Seniors legal services
|Ohio United Way/211|
Community Action Agencies
|Oklahoma||Legal Aid Oklahoma|
OK Legal Connect
|Emergency Rental Assistance Program from Restore Hope|
Oklahoma Emergency Rental Assistance Program
|Oregon||Oregon Law Help|
Legal Aid Services of Oregon
|Oregon Rental Assistance Program|
Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP)
|Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania Law Help|
Pennsylvania Judicial System Self-Help
|Pennsylvania Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)|
United Way/211 of Pennsylvania
|Rhode Island||Rhode Island Legal Services, Inc.|
Help Rhode Island Law
|Rent Relief Rhode Island|
United Way/211 of Rhode Island
|South Carolina||Housing Navigators from South Carolina NAACP|
South Carolina Legal Services, Inc.
|SC Thrive COVID-19 Rental Assistance|
United Way/211 of South Carolina
|South Dakota||South Dakota Law Help|
South Dakota Courts Legal Self-Help
|South Dakota CARES Housing Assistance Program|
South Dakota 211
|Tennessee||Help for Tennessee|
Tennessee Immigration & Refugee Rights Coalition
|Tennessee Rent Relief|
Tennessee United Way/2-1-1
|Texas||Stop Texas Eviction|
Texas Eviction Diversion Program
|Texas Rent Relief|
Help for Texans
|Utah||Utah Legal Services, Inc.|
Utah Free Legal Answers online clinic
|Utah Rent Relief|
Utah 211/United Way
|Virginia||Eviction Legal Helpline from Virginia Poverty Law Center|
Virginia Legal Aid
|Virginia Rent Relief Program (RRP)|
|Vermont||Vermont Eviction legal help guide during COVID-19|
Legal Services Vermont
|Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program (VERAP)|
|Washington||Washington Law Help|
Northwest Justice Project
|Washington State Treasury Rent Assistance Program (T-RAP)|
|Wisconsin||Eviction Defense Project of Legal Aid of Wisconsin|
Housing legal resources from Wisconsin Judicare
|Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance (WERA)|
|West Virginia||Legal Aid of West Virginia, Inc.|
Self-Help library from Legal Aid of West Virginia
|WV Mountaineer Rental Assistance Program|
West Virginia 211
|Wyoming||Legal Aid of Wyoming, Inc.|
Equal Justice Wyoming
|Wyoming Emergency Rental Assistance Program|
A landlord might hesitate to rent to someone with a bad rental history. Nonetheless, there are many ways to rent again after an eviction.
For example, you can rent with a forgiving property management company that offers customized rental agreements unique to each person’s financial situation, allowing new residents to rebuild their credit after eviction.
If possible, you could also pay a couple of months’ rent in advance to increase your chances of renting after an eviction.
Lastly, you can consider getting a cosigner or roommate with good credit and rental history.
Here are three ways to rebuild your score after an eviction:
An eviction can stay on your rental record for seven years.
After the eviction judgment, you are expected to receive a Writ of Restitution. This document authorizes the U.S. Marshals Service to schedule an eviction. After that, the U.S. Marshals Service will contact you to schedule the removal.
Remember, your landlord cannot evict you unless they schedule an eviction through the U.S. Marshals Service.
Unfortunately, you cannot remove a rental judgment from your record.