8 Myths and Facts About Tenant Evictions
The majority of tenants won’t experience an eviction while renting. In most cases, you can prevent yourself from being evicted by being a good tenant and following the rental laws in your area. However, sometimes life is unpredictable and accidents can happen, putting you at risk personally and financially.
If you’re wondering what can happen if you end up facing an eviction notice, you’re not alone. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about the process and what it means for tenants, so it can be tough to find reliable information sometimes. But don’t get us wrong – evictions are a serious concern and can follow you around for a long time.
As such, we’re diving into the myths and assumptions people make about evictions, so you can tell fact from fiction.
1. Myth: “My landlord can’t just evict me.”
Fact: While your landlord can’t evict you for just any reason, the law does allow them to evict you if:
a. You don’t pay your rent on time.
b. You break any part of the lease agreement.
c. Your lease ends
In some cases, being just a day late can get an eviction process started. For example, in Michigan, their laws state that your rent is considered late the day after it’s due. Any grace periods would have to be addressed in the lease/rental agreement.
2. Myth: “My landlord can’t evict me, because my kids are still in school, I’m pregnant, or the weather is horrible.”
Fact: Similar to the point above, landlords can evict their tenants with legal grounds—regardless of the personal situation of their tenants:
a. They can evict a tenant with children even before the school year ends.
b. They can evict a tenant even if they are pregnant and can give birth anytime.
c. They can evict a tenant even in the middle of a natural disaster.
As mentioned before, tenants who miss rent, disobey the lease agreement, or are living with an expired lease are at risk of receiving a Notice to Quit or being completely evicted from the property. These personal issues might be a factor for why you didn’t pay your rent, but they’re not seen as valid reasons for halting eviction proceedings in the eyes of the law.
3. Myth: “I’m entitled to a 30-day notice before an eviction process begins.”
Fact: Michigan has several eviction options for landlords. The two most popular are the Notice for Possession, also known as a 30-Day Notice and a Notice for non-payment, also called a 7-Day Notice.
4. Myth: “My eviction record can’t be used against me forever.”
Fact: While your landlord can use the oldest of eviction records to deny your rental application, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) says you only have to report any evictions that happened in the past seven years. Meanwhile, in some states, like Oregon, you only need to report any evictions in the last five years.
However, some landlords may do more digging and find these reports on their own, and they can still use that information to decide whether they want to approve or deny you as an applicant.
5. Myth: “If I go through an eviction court hearing, it’ll go on my file as a criminal record.”
Fact: Evictions and criminal records are entirely different—unless the reason for eviction includes a criminal charge. Generally, evictions are filed as a civil record and will not appear on a criminal report. You won’t be considered a criminal just because of a previous eviction. However, it will appear on other reports. As part of the background check in an application process, landlords can get your rental history report through a tenant screening company, and this will show any evictions you’ve had in the past.
Furthermore, if you had unpaid debt following your eviction (e.g., outstanding rent payments), your landlord may have sold the debt to a collection agency. If the collection agency reports the debt to a credit reporting agency, your eviction will then show up in your credit report as a collection.
6. Myth: “I don’t need to worry about evictions without a judgement.”
Fact: Landlords conduct a thorough screening of their prospective tenants during the application stage, mainly to ensure they can pay rent and maintain the property. As part of the process, they will check for any evictions that had judgements and filings. While some might think their landlord can’t deny a tenant if they had an eviction without a judgement, that’s not necessarily true.
In states like Michigan, they do allow the use of cases that have no judgement to deny an application, so keep that in mind. In addition, some courts will give “filing only” court records to landlords with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
7. Myth: “My landlord needs my SSN to find eviction records.”
Fact: When landlords conduct a background check, they’ll use tenant screening services that match your name and address to find eviction records—not your Social Security Number (SSN). An SSN can help them narrow down eviction records, but it’s not often used.
Even when a landlord files an unlawful detainer (the eviction process that moves quickly through the court system), they rarely include or use the SSN directly.
8. Myth: “I don’t need to run an eviction check, since it’ll be on my credit report.”
Fact: Credit reports will only cover the evictions that involve a monetary judgment. For example, if your landlord is filing an eviction because you violated their pet policies, it won’t show up in your credit report.
Since the majority (roughly 90%) of eviction cases aren’t about money, landlords will go beyond your credit report to check for eviction cases. As mentioned earlier, they can use tenant screening services, where they’ll see cases that were not just about monetary restitution.
So, it might be a good idea to run an eviction check to cover your bases and see what information is out there about you! If you can find it in your history, so too can future landlords.
Now that you know the truth behind these common myths and misconceptions, you can see why avoiding eviction altogether is definitely the best course of action!
Any other eviction myths you’d like us to verify for you?
Image courtesy of Ryanniel Masucol