Having an eviction expunged is the best way to get an eviction off your record. When an eviction is expunged, it means future landlords cannot see the eviction on your rental history, and a rental applicant can select “no” when answering whether or not they’ve ever been evicted.
- Check Your State Laws
- Win Your Eviction Case
- Review Your Eviction Paperwork
- Determine Your Expungement Type
- File Your Motion of Expungement
- Attend the Hearing
- Check the Court Record
- Send Copies to Tenant Screening Companies
1. Check Your State Laws
The first step to getting an eviction off your record is to check the laws regarding expungement in your state. Every state has its own set of rules when filing for expungement, so check with local laws to ensure you can get the eviction removed.
Who Can Receive An Expungement?
Courts won’t hand out an expungement to just anyone. Typically, they are reserved for those who can prove one of the following:
- An eviction case was won in favor of the tenant.
- An eviction was the result of landlord retaliation or a holdover situation.
- Lease terms were not violated.
- A landlord did not follow proper state eviction procedures.
- The landlord’s property was in foreclosure at the time of the eviction.
- The eviction notice was posted after the tenant had already moved out.
- The expungement is clearly in the “interest of justice.”
- There is a written agreement to the expungement from the previous landlord. This is sometimes referred to as a “satisfaction of judgment.”
What is “Interest of Justice”?
These are situations where the potential benefit of removing an eviction dramatically outweighs the potential harm to the public. In a case where there is an interest of justice, a judge will look at the following information:
- If the eviction was the result of circumstances beyond the control of the tenant
- Whether those extenuating circumstances warrant an expungement
- The amount of time between the eviction and the motion to expunge
Based on these three items, a judge will determine whether there are reasonable grounds for expungement.
2. Win Your Eviction Case
An eviction is most likely to be expunged if the case is won in the tenant’s favor. This act proves that the landlord’s lawsuit was sufficiently without basis in fact or law, which is considered reasonable grounds for having the eviction removed from public view.
3. Review Your Eviction Paperwork
If the case is won in your landlord’s favor, then it’s essential to review all paperwork associated with the case. This includes the previous lease, eviction notice, Dispossessory Affidavit, and the final judgment. What you’re looking for here is any additional grounds for having the eviction expunged. This can include significant issues with your landlord’s argument, such as references to incorrect facts or laws.
4. Determine Your Expungement Type
There are three types of expungement to remove an eviction from your record: inherent authority, statutory, and mandatory. Inherent authority happens when a court decides that a tenant’s expungement is more important than any future landlord’s knowledge of the case. Statutory involves an expungement where a landlord’s case was either significantly flawed, the product of retaliation, or had little legal basis. Finally, mandatory expungements only occur when the court is forced to remove a tenant’s eviction because a landlord’s property was in foreclosure before the eviction was filed.
It is typically best to request an Inherent Authority Expungement. However, if you could find significant issues with the landlord’s case, you can request a Statutory Expungement instead. Remember, a Mandatory Expungement should only be requested if an eviction occurred after a home was already in foreclosure or the deed was contracted for cancellation.
5. File Your Motion of Expungement
Some states allow you to file your expungement form through the mail or by e-filing online. However, it is often best practice to hand-deliver this document yourself to your local Magistrate Court clerk. Along with this form, give as much information as possible about your situation and why you deserve expungement. A fee will be associated with this paperwork; however, some states have additional forms available so that you can waive it.
6. Attend the Hearing
Some states don’t require a hearing. However, for those that do, you’ll need to come prepared with a well-documented argument and any additional paperwork required by your state. If the case is strong enough, the court will likely agree to remove the eviction from your record.
7. Check the Court Record
Once an expungement has been granted, the court clerk should be able to tell you when the eviction will be removed from public view. Be sure to consistently check your public record to ensure it has been removed.
8. Send Copies to Tenant Screening Companies
Tenant screening companies are not allowed to report an eviction once they know it has been expunged. So after you’ve received your expungement, send copies of the document to your local tenant screening agencies so that they know to immediately stop reporting it.
There is no set time frame for an eviction expungement. Instead, it will primarily depend on how quickly the correct paperwork is completed and filed, fees are paid, and the court is able to review the case. Additionally, it may take a few weeks for an eviction to be officially removed from your record after the expungement has been granted.
It can cost as little as $50 to get an eviction expunged if you handle it yourself. However, if you hire a lawyer, you should expect to pay between $1,000 to $3,000 in attorney fees.
The fee for filing a Motion of Expungement is usually between $50-$100, depending on your state. However, additional forms are often available to waive these costs if you can show financial hardship.
It’s not always easy to get an eviction removed from your record. However, if there’s a chance that yours may have been wrongfully committed, or if you can prove it was the result of excessive hardship, attempting to obtain an expungement is usually the effort.