The Truth about Eviction Records: Judgments vs. Filings


by Becky Bower, NARPM®

hen you’re looking at your applicant’s resident screening

some areas, the resident does have to file for expungement to remove/ seal the eviction record. Of course, if the court sides with the landlord or property owner, the eviction judgment will stay on the resident’s record (industry stan- dard is for seven years, five in some states) . To remove or seal the record, renters would typically need a valid reason for the courts to grant the expungement. When it comes to your resident screening report, ultimately the eviction judgment has more weight as it’s been decided by the court and can’t be easily expunged. That doesn’t mean filings should be taken lightly, but without a judgment, there isn’t a legal record of who (the property owner or renter) really was at fault. Consider the difference between an arrest and a conviction. A person arrested has technically not been found guilty of having commit- ted a crime, so you add liabilities to your decision by using an arrest record against them. Where can I see eviction judgments and filings on my applicant’s resident screening report? If your resident screening reports include eviction records, you’ll be able to see your applicant’s eviction judgments and any filings in juris - dictions that allow reporting. Make sure your screening service offers

nationwide eviction records, and not just eviction data from your state! NARPM supports and maintains a partnership with CIC, a tenant screening company that includes nationwide eviction and criminal screening. If your resident screening service doesn’t offer eviction data, you might be able to see monetary judgments on the credit report, but it won’t include any non-monetary civil cases like judgments for possession. Since the three major credit bureaus enacted the National Consumer Assistance Plan, the numbers of civil judgements included in the credit report were greatly reduced. As for the criminal report, evic- tions are typically filed as civil records and will not appear as a criminal record. An eviction will only appear as a criminal record if there is some type of criminal charge at- tached to the eviction. For example, if an eviction was being filed due to illegal activity. Frankly, unless your resident screening service explicitly includes nationwide eviction data, the chanc- es that you’ll even see your appli- cants’ eviction records on any portion of your resident screening reports are incredibly slim. There’s an eviction judgment on my applicant’s background report. What should I do?


report, it can be easy to get confused about eviction judgments and filings. What’s the difference between the two, and which carries more weight? Where can you see eviction records on the resident screening report, and what should you do if there is an eviction judgment present? We’ve answered all your burning questions about eviction judgments and filings, and why it matters. What’s the difference between an evic- tion judgment and an eviction filing? The difference between eviction judgments and filings has to do with timing and decision. After the formal eviction notice deadline, rental prop- erty owners and landlords can then file for eviction with their local court - house. After providing the proper paperwork, the clerk will schedule a hearing and notify the resident via a summons. Keep in mind, the renter could choose to voluntarily move out after receiving the summons, thus never incurring an eviction judgment on their record. The eviction filing becomes an eviction judgment once the court hearing sides with the landlord, property owner, or even renter. Typi- cally, if the resident wins an eviction hearing, most state and city eviction laws automatically expunge the evic- tion from their record. However, in

60 | think realty magazine :: september 2020

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