Updated May 24, 2021
Evictions are an occupational hazard. The word is cringe-worthy. Unfortunately, evictions are a necessity in the real estate industry. Despite that sentiment, on the other hand, eviction records are notoriously useful. Test your knowledge by reading below and see if you can spot something new. You might be surprised.
MYTH: A SSN is needed to find eviction records.
FACT: ApplyConnect.com matches on the name and the defendant's address. When a landlord files an unlawful detainer, the SSN is rarely included; thus, that is not used directly. If you do have it, an SSN can help narrow down eviction records if the defendant's name matches completely from first to middle initial and last name.
MYTH: "I don't need to run an eviction check. It'll be on the credit report.”
FACT: While a money judgment against an applicant who didn't pay their rent may be picked up by the credit bureau as a public record, most evictions won't appear. The bureaus report less than 10% of the cases filed, and they are only ones involving a monetary judgment. For example, if the tenant violated the terms of their lease agreement like having an unauthorized pet but were not late on their rent, the eviction judgment would not be on the credit report.
Many cases, especially in California, are for possession only. The landlord is eager to get the delinquent tenants out first and will go back to the court to file for monetary restitution later.
The ApplyConnect eviction report will return non-monetary civil cases like these mentioned… even ones where the tenants paid after being served or voluntarily vacated the property as permitted by state and federal law.
MYTH: An eviction record can be used against an applicant forever.
FACT: Industry practice is that evictions are reported for seven years per the FCRA (5 years in Oregon – Senate Bill 91).
MYTH: "If the evictions go through the court system, it'll show up as a criminal record.”
FACT: This isn't necessarily true. Unless an eviction carried some criminal charge, the eviction would be filed as a civil record and would not appear on a criminal report.
MYTH: Evictions only matter if there is a judgment.
FACT: Performing a background check on potential tenants is about gaining an objective look at the type of renter they will be. Researching evictions that had judgments and filings is essential to spot any negative patterns an applicant has. Surprisingly, some applicants with a history of poor renter habits know how to skirt the system by getting enough warnings or threats without going to court before moving on to the next unsuspecting property. Some states have restrictions on the use of cases without a judgment that ApplyConnect has in place.
MYTH: Evictions are a blacklist and aren't governed by the same laws as credit reporting.
FACT: Governed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), eviction reports are subject to laws on a federal (and often statewide) level relating to Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs). While you can accept or deny applicants with evictions at your discretion, there are reporting restrictions (FCRA Sect. 605) concerning Adverse Actions for civil suits, collections, and "any other adverse item of information."
There are also regulations set on who has access to consumer files. Based on the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, consumers have a right to their privacy. So treating eviction records as a blacklist isn't wise in the long run.
Rather than dreading the word "evictions," use your newfound knowledge about eviction reports to your advantage when making rental decisions. An eviction check, alongside credit and criminal reports, is vital in a background checking service to make an educated rental decision.
About the Author: Becky Bower is a writer for ResidentScreeningBlog.com and a communications intern at Contemporary Information Corporation (C.I.C), a nationwide tenant & employment screening company. She has also spent several years in compliance and auditing. Becky holds a degree in English with a focus in creative writing from CSU Channel Islands and is a published writer.