how to look up evictions

Updated May 2020

There’s one word all experienced landlords have come to fear: eviction.

While eviction might sometimes be a necessity, it’s never an easy process. While the ultimate goal should always be to prevent an eviction situation from ever occurring, the simple fact is that it can and will happen eventually.

But the word “eviction” can be a helper, too. By learning how to look up evictions, you can find out if potential tenants have a record of evictions.

This record’s presence can inform you about what type of renter they might be and, ultimately, may help you avoid a future eviction. All you need is time and references to do thorough eviction checks.

Checking eviction history before you rent to a new tenant is a key part of choosing the right tenants who will be long-term, profitable renters. Renting to those with a long history of eviction is only sure to cause more grief, so learning how to avoid that situation is essential.

Here’s what you need to do.

A Table Of Contents For How To Find Eviction Records

Why Is An Eviction Record Search Necessary?

Why Is An Eviction Record Search Necessary?Before we get into the details of how to check eviction history, you may still be curious about why this check is necessary.

Simply put, people tend to have patterns of behavior. If a tenant has been evicted from a property one time before, this shows that they may find themselves in the same situation again in the future.

If they’ve been evicted multiple times, you can be all-but-sure that they will be a difficult tenant to work with.

Eviction only occurs in the most serious of cases. There are times when a tenant does so much damage to property or simply refuses to pay their rent, and those are the times when an eviction occurs.

If a potential tenant has a history of eviction, you will want to consider their profile much more carefully before even playing with the idea of renting to them. If you don’t, you’ll be putting yourself and your business at risk.

How To Look Up Evictions

Eviction Lookup Method 1: Court Records

The most direct and thorough way to find out if a potential tenant has a history of eviction is to check court records. Every state, county, and area may have different courthouses, and so it may seem impossible to find out if this tenant has ever done wrong before.

First, find your state’s website.

Court records can be searched by state. To find your state’s website, which can be used to search court records, use this resource. Each state may have multiple websites that can be checked for various home-related issues, so be sure to check each one thoroughly.

Second, search the names.

Once on the court records website, search the potential tenants’ name to find out if they have any eviction records in their past.

You will want to be sure that you are thorough and check more than just the main name they gave you on their application. In addition to their currently used name, check the following names:

  • Birth name
  • Nicknames
  • Alternate names
  • Names with or without initials
  • Name before or after marriage/divorce

By ensuring you check every combination of their name you can come up with, you will be able to make sure there aren’t any records you are missing.

Third, get access to the record.

While you cannot view the full record for eviction cases in every state, you can get a thorough briefing or full access in most states with this type of case.

It’s important you actually view the eviction case. Don’t let the presence of an eviction case cause you to write off a potential tenant.

In some cases, bad landlords try to wrongfully evict a tenant, and this would still cause an eviction case to be present in the person’s history.

While learning how to check eviction records, it’s essential that you consider the meaning of every result you find in your eviction record search to give every tenant a balanced chance.

If you cannot view the record online or travel to the courthouse in person, call them to see if you can pay a copy fee to have a record of the case mailed to you.

Eviction Lookup Method 2: Hire A Third Party Service

As you can see, doing the work of finding the right courthouse, checking every name that the tenant may have used in the past, and collecting the full court information can be quite the task.

Plus, you may not have any idea what states your potential tenant has lived in during their life!

Because figuring out how to check eviction history can be quite complicated, there are a number of services out there that include eviction checks as part of their tenant screening services. A screening service can do a national eviction search thoroughly and effectively. The screening services often come back including credit information so you can make a comprehensive and well-informed decision about future tenants.

If you aren’t experienced or confident in your ability to do the research yourself for every potential tenant, it may be time to hire a screening service to help you narrow down the list of maybes so you can find the perfect renter.

For Tenants: How To Check If You Have An Eviction

For Tenants: How To Check If You Have An EvictionAre you a tenant hunting for an apartment? Wondering how to see if you have an eviction on record that might negatively affect your chances when applying for an apartment? Thankfully, doing this is just as easy for you as it is for landlords.

In fact, you can use the exact same methods outlined above to find out if you have anything negative in your rental history. These are the techniques landlords use, so it makes sense for you to use them as well!

The ultimate way to make sure you are aware of how your records will show up for a landlord is to ask what screening service, if any, they use. You can then check via this same third-party service to see what your record looks like.

How To Look Up Evictions FAQs

Are Evictions Public Record?

Yes, evictions are added to the public record after they are filed with the court system. Whether or not the full details are readily available depends on what state the report was filed in, but all evictions will show up in some way on public records. Depending on the final judgment of the case, it may also show up in criminal background checks.

Generally speaking, however, eviction records do not show up in a credit report as of July 2017. This is why many landlords do separate eviction history checks in addition to a credit report.

How Can I Check If I Have Evictions On Record?

The best way to check if you have evictions on record is to go through the steps outlined above. While the technique was written with landlords in mind, you can use the same technique to check your own information. Here is a simplified step-by-step:

  1. Use this website to find your state’s court data system.
  2. Search your name and any aliases you have used to see if any evictions show up.
  3. If evictions show up, you can contact the court to view the full eviction details to see what the documents actually say.

Another way to check if you have any evictions on record is to request a full tenant screening report on yourself or even a criminal background screening; these checks may include evictions in some cases.

How Do You Get An Eviction Removed From Your Public Record?

If you lost the eviction case in court, there is no way to have the court records expunged from the civil records as the case was valid and fully prosecuted. If, however, you won an eviction case or it was dropped by the landlord, you can make sure it no longer appears in court records.

If a landlord has ever filed against you for eviction but you won the case or it never went to court, you will want to make sure the records are expunged so they do not appear in eviction report searches by potential landlords.

How Can I Check My Rental History?

If you want to check out what type of rental history report your landlord or potential landlords might be looking at, the easiest way to do that is to sign up with a third-party service and run a report on your own name. This is also how to find out if you have an eviction on your record.

Screening services are often used by landlords to get a complete and comprehensive look at the rental history of prospective tenants, so this is an easy way to check out your own information. Checking out your own information is also an important step to ensure that all information shown is accurate.

For more information on tenant screening services and what information landlords typically see, check out this privacy rights information.

How Far Back Do Apartments Look For Evictions?

Eviction records stay on file with courts for up to seven years; this means that any eviction record might show up on your screening report for this long. If you want to be sure of what information a landlord will see, you can ask them what tenant screening services they use.

How Soon Does An Eviction Show Up?

Evictions typically show up on records within 30 to 60 days; the exact amount of time it takes for these records to appear depends on the court system, the filing agencies, and what types of screening services are being used to check this data.

Do Evictions Show Up On Background Checks?

The term background check doesn’t necessarily denote a specific type of information search; landlords who use the phrase background check are typically doing both a criminal background check and an eviction history check.

Evictions do not show up on criminal background checks unless there was an associated charge or misdemeanor that had to be settled in civil court. Evictions will show up in an eviction history check for as long as they are on record with the courts; these files are typically on file for seven years.

Checking your credit report for evictions isn’t going to bring back any results; evictions are not included there.

Do Dismissed Evictions Show Up On Background Checks?

Dismissed evictions should not show up on your background checks, but there are some cases where the paperwork will still be on file with the court system. If the landlord doesn’t read the full document and only sees that an eviction filing exists, this might lead them to make incorrect assumptions about the responsibility of a potential tenant.

Dismissed evictions can be expunged from a tenant’s record as the court would likely find that it is in the interest of justice to remove evictions that were not complete.

Can You Still Get An Apartment With An Eviction?

There are many landlords that will still rent to tenants with an eviction, particularly if there is a solid reason for that eviction happening or if it was many years in the past. If you have an eviction on your record, it is best to be upfront with any landlords about the eviction, why it happened, and how you will avoid any repeat scenarios.

It’s best if the landlord finds out from the tenant rather than from their screening services.

Choose Your Tenants Carefully

Renting out property is about more than just finding someone who is willing to live in your rental. It’s about finding tenants who will have a good relationship with both you and your property.

If you don’t choose tenants carefully and learn how to check eviction records, you could be putting your entire business at risk. All of the information gathered in rental applications should supplement the research you do about each tenant.

Be sure to check for a history of evictions:

  • Search courthouse records.
  • Consider every possible nickname.
  • Hire help for more detailed eviction reviews.

By paying attention to the history of potential tenants, you’ll be able to make smarter choices about who you invite to live in your rental properties. This decision should include an eviction history, a background check, and credit scores. With all of that information, you’ll be making the wisest choice a landlord can make.