Trying to find a new place to live with an eviction on your record is like trying to swim with an anchor tied around your waist. Many renters find themselves facing skepticism from potential landlords, making what should be an exciting search feel like an uphill battle. However, understanding your eviction record and its implications can make this more a manageable process.

Step 1: Verify Your Eviction Record

Before you can address an eviction, you need to confirm whether it’s officially recorded and understand the details behind it. This step is crucial as errors in eviction records are not uncommon and can unjustly complicate your rental applications.

How to Check for an Eviction Record

  1. Court Records: Start by checking the public records at the local courthouse where the eviction was filed. You can usually do this online via the court’s website, or in person if necessary.
  2. Credit Reports: While evictions themselves are not listed on credit reports, any related debts, such as unpaid rent or fees, can appear. Request a free copy of your credit report from major credit bureaus like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to see if there are any associated debts.
  3. Tenant Screening Reports: Landlords often use tenant screening services that include eviction history. You can request a copy of your report from these services to see what potential landlords will see. Common services include Checkr, TransUnion SmartMove, and Experian RentBureau.

What to Do if You Find Errors

If you discover inaccuracies in your eviction record on any platform, it’s essential to challenge these errors promptly. Each credit bureau and tenant screening agency has its own procedure for disputing inaccuracies, generally involving submitting a formal dispute and providing any proof that supports your claim.

Step 2: Addressing Your Eviction Record

Mistakes in eviction records or related credit reports can exacerbate your difficulties. Actively check for and dispute any errors you find. If there are discrepancies related to eviction-related debts on your credit report, file a dispute with the respective credit bureau. Provide them with evidence that supports your claim to have the record corrected.

Similarly, if your tenant screening report contains inaccuracies, contact the screening agency to challenge the errors. Documentation such as payment receipts or court documents can be an extremely important piece of proving your case.

Due to our current caseload, our office simply does not the have the resources
needed to dedicate to any additional tenant legal matters.
Any tenant-specific legal matters should be referred to the following organization:
Lawyer Referral Service Online (available 24/7) —
or Phone (800) 342-8011 Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Settle Outstanding Debts

If your eviction was due to unpaid rent or other financial disputes, resolving these debts can significantly improve your standing with future landlords:

  • Negotiate with Creditors: Contact your former landlord or debt collectors to negotiate a settlement. Sometimes, they may accept a lower amount than what was originally owed.
  • Ask for Debt Removal: After settling debts, ask creditors to remove the collection account from your credit report. While not all creditors will agree, this can have a positive impact on your credit score.

Step 3: Seek Expungement or Seal the Record

If your eviction record is proving to be a barrier to renting, you might consider whether you can have the record expunged or sealed. This step involves legal actions that can potentially remove your eviction from public view, depending on the circumstances and state laws.

Expungement completely erases the eviction from your record as if it never happened. On the other hand, sealing the record still exists but is not accessible to the public, including potential landlords. Getting the eviction itself expunged is ideal, but sealing is also suitable for the purposes of getting into a new home.

Expungement in Florida is generally uncommon for eviction records, but it may be possible if the eviction was the result of a clerical error, was settled in court in your favor, or if the landlord did not follow proper legal procedures. In other cases, it’s unlikely that multiple evictions would be expunged.

Steps to Apply for Expungement or Sealing

  1. Consult with a Real Estate Attorney: Discuss your case to understand the potential for expungement or sealing and the specific requirements in Florida.
  2. Gather Documentation: Collect all relevant documents such as court rulings, settlement agreements, and any other paperwork that supports your case.
  3. File a Petition: Your attorney can help prepare and file a petition with the court to request the expungement or sealing of your eviction record.

Keep in mind that even if an eviction is sealed or expunged, some government agencies or entities under specific legal allowances might still access the information for particular purposes.

Step 4: Enhancing Your Rental Application

Improving your rental application is crucial in mitigating the impact of an eviction record. To make your application more appealing to potential landlords, consider several strategies. First, build a positive rental history by consistently paying rent on time at your current residence and maintaining the property well. Positive references from your current landlord can significantly bolster your credibility.

Another effective strategy is to work on increasing your credit score. This can be achieved by paying down existing debts, avoiding new debts, and ensuring that all bills are paid on time. A higher credit score can make you more attractive to potential landlords, as it indicates financial responsibility.

Additionally, obtaining recommendations can enhance your application. Gather letters from previous landlords, employers, or other credible references who can vouch for your reliability and responsibility. These testimonials provide tangible proof of your suitability as a tenant.

Offering a larger security deposit can also be persuasive. It reassures landlords of your financial commitment and your ability to cover potential damages, making you a less risky choice.

Lastly, consider having a co-signer if possible. A co-signer with a strong credit background can significantly strengthen your application, providing additional assurance to landlords about the reliability of rent payments.

Remember, every landlord is different, and while some may hesitate due to past evictions, others are willing to consider the overall context and your recent efforts towards financial stability and reliability. It’s important to communicate openly and honestly with potential landlords about your past eviction, providing them with a clear picture of your growth and how you’ve worked to ensure it won’t be an issue in the future.

Due to our current caseload, our office simply does not the have the resources
needed to dedicate to any additional tenant legal matters.
Any tenant-specific legal matters should be referred to the following organization:
Lawyer Referral Service Online (available 24/7) —
or Phone (800) 342-8011 Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.