An eviction can happen for reasons that are sometimes unfair or even downright illegal. Even if you are legally evicted, knowing what happens if you get evicted, and ways to recover from it, is important. Here’s what you should know.
This article is not intended to be legal advice. You can contact the Arizona Legal Center today to learn more about your rights in your situation. Note that when you first contact the Arizona Legal Center, a law student (and not a practicing attorney) will handle your intake.
How does getting evicted affect you?
The three main ways that getting evicted can affect you are:
- Making it difficult to rent again
- Damaging your credit
- Affecting your family
Let’s look at each of these in more detail, as well as ways to overcome these challenges.
What happens to your credit if you get evicted?
Property owners may report delinquent payments to credit bureaus. This can compromise your financial stability and negatively affect your credit score for a long time: up to seven years in some cases.
As you likely know, your credit score is a major factor a new rental or apartment will take into account, as well as insurance companies, car companies, and more.
What can I do?
It’s not all bad news. According to Experian, an eviction won’t necessarily show up on a regular credit report requested by a future property owner. A property owner can report delinquency in rent so what will appear is a “late payment” marker, not an eviction.
Further, a credit score is based on a number of factors.
If you can, pay down credit card balances. If you do not have a credit card, consider applying for a credit card secured by cash. Keep this for emergencies only, and pay it off when you use it. If you have too many credit cards open, pay off and close the ones you no longer need.
If you notice these markers on your credit after seven years, you can also write to each credit bureau and request that it be removed.
How can you rent a place with an eviction?
Being evicted with no place to go can create incredible stress, especially if you have children. Beyond your credit score, just letting possible property owners know that you have been evicted can make it difficult to rent again.
There may be ways to rent a place with a previous eviction, however.
Challenge the eviction
Tenants have rights, too. Your landlord generally cannot evict you for any of the following:
- Reporting health code violations
- As a discriminatory action
- After a tenant timely corrects a properly noticed violation of their lease
- After a tenant pays past due rent, fees, and court fees
You may be able to challenge the eviction in court under these circumstances and potentially halt the eviction. Before doing so, always talk to a legal professional for help with your situation.
Your previous landlords are usually just interested in getting payment for the properties they rent.
Even if an eviction has been processed and you have moved, you can make restitution after the fact. Talk with your landlord to determine how much you owe, and see if they will work with you on a payment plan.
Everyone goes through financial challenges. If you can show a previous landlord that you are trying to make it right, they may be willing to provide a positive reference for another place.
Improve your credit
As noted above, an eviction can affect your credit, making renting a place more difficult.
Request a free copy of your credit report to see where you stand, then work to improve your credit.
Rent from friends or family
Making restitution to your landlord and improving your credit score takes time. Renting from friends or living with family is a good way to buy yourself that time to make positive changes.
Rent from a landlord who does not require a credit check
They are rare, but property owners who do not look into your credit score or previous rental history are out there.
If a future rental or apartment complex chooses not to request a rental history, a property owner may not know you were evicted. However, not telling the truth on your rental application can be a legal reason for eviction in the future (Title 33-1368).
It is always important to be honest, but if your eviction was illegal or for circumstances beyond your control, explaining this may help.
What else happens if you get evicted?
For renters with children, an eviction goes beyond just a change of address. Because your address is linked to your school system, an eviction may mean a change of school as well.
You may also have concerns about paying the rest of your lease or the rent you currently owe. Here’s what you should know.
Do you have to pay rent if you get evicted in Arizona?
If you are being evicted for non-payment of rent, your former landlord can seek restitution in court.
This process is long and costly for property owners. It can be challenging to recover past-due rent and court fees. In some cases, property owners are only interested in tenants vacating the property and will not pursue legal action after you leave.
Never assume this is the case, however, and always talk to a legal professional for more information about your situation.
Do you have to pay the rest of your lease if you get evicted?
A property owner can pursue legal action to collect the remainder of the amount owed under a lease, but many do not.
Landlords have a duty to mitigate damages, so it is in their best interest to rent to someone else as quickly as possible. If they are successful in finding a new tenant quickly, they may not sue for outstanding balances owed by a previous tenant, but do not count on that.
In any event, you will most likely lose your security deposit as a result, along with any other deposits you may have made.
How long does it take to get evicted?
The Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act regulates the process of eviction.
An eviction can happen in as little as two weeks. In reality, eviction often takes 30 days or more. In Arizona, the property owner generally cannot change the locks and remove your belongings immediately (Title 33-1367).
What should I do?
While the Maricopa County Justice Court and the Pima County Justice Court provide more information on the eviction process, sometimes you just need someone in your corner to clarify what’s going on. An eviction can be challenging: emotionally, mentally, and financially.
The Arizona Legal Center provides free legal aid and consultations in Arizona only. We provide low-cost access to fee-for-service cases when determined appropriate by an attorney at the Center, but generally do not undertake full-scope representation.