During my last month of college, I came home one day to an eviction notice posted on my door. When I called the leasing office to see why I was being evicted, they told me my roommate hadn’t paid his share of the rent in five months.
Since we had been living there for six months, this means he only made one rent payment.
I felt blindsided by this eviction because the office didn’t notify me that our rent payments were late, even after I asked. My biggest concern was how the eviction would affect my credit and ability to rent another place in the future.
Getting evicted can be demoralizing, and, like me, you may be left to feel like you’ll never be able to rent again. But that’s not true — you can bounce back after being evicted.
Together, let’s take a look at some steps you can take to recover from an eviction and find another place to rent.
1. Understand why you were evicted
The first and most important step in the recovery process is to understand exactly why you were evicted.
In my case, the first time I was evicted from my apartment was for my roommate’s failure to pay his share of the rent.
And I was evicted a second time at the same apartment complex when the leasing office found out I was staying with some friends in another unit.
I came home to another eviction notice that read:
“Residents, you are housing an unlawful resident. Please remove this tenant now or you’ll be evicted.”
Some other common reasons for eviction include:
- Property damage.
- Illegal activity.
- Other violations of the lease agreement.
If the reason for eviction isn’t listed on your eviction notice, ask your landlord to provide you with one. From there, you can either fight the eviction in court or, negotiate with your landlord. The latter option will likely be the cheapest.
2. Try to make amends with your former landlord
Next, you should try to repair your relationship with your former landlord. After I was evicted, I scheduled a meeting with the apartment complex owners, and they offered me a payment plan in exchange for not sending the balance my roommate and I owed to a collection company.
If you want to avoid damage to your credit score, I suggest trying to negotiate a payment plan with your former landlord.
Even if you don’t owe any money, you can ask them not to report the eviction. It really never hurts to ask.
3. Improve your credit score
If you’re unable to pay your outstanding balance, your landlord may report this to one of the three major credit bureaus: Transunion, Equifax, or Experian.
This can cause major damage to your credit score, making it harder to rent an apartment and qualify for future loans.
Here are four super easy steps you can take to rebuild your score:
- Pay your bills on time. Payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO score — it’s the most important credit score factor. Pay all of your bills on time to avoid damage to your score; paying your credit accounts back will add positive repayment history.
- Lower your credit utilization ratio. Another key credit score factor is your credit utilization ratio — this accounts for 30% of your score. It measures how much of your available credit you use. To improve your score, pay down some of your debt, if possible.
- Get a secured credit card. A secured credit card operates the same way a traditional credit card operates, except you have to put down a security deposit. This deposit helps establish your maximum credit limit. Making on-time payments can help you rebuild your damaged score.
- Check your credit report. Incomplete or inaccurate information listed on your credit reports can damage your credit score. To catch any credit reporting errors, check all three of your credit reports for free annually by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. If you find an error on your reports, dispute it with each credit bureau that includes it.
4. Get a cosigner for your next lease
It’s important to note that you don’t have to wait until your credit score improves before you apply for another apartment. You can ask a family member or friend who has good credit and rental history to cosign for you. A cosigner is someone who agrees to pay the rent if you can’t pay it.
Before you let someone cosign, make sure they understand that if they’re unable to cover the rent for you, it can negatively affect their credit score.
5. Consider moving back home to rebuild your savings
If you were evicted because you couldn’t afford to pay your rent, consider moving back home to rebuild your savings.
This is what I had to do when I got into some financial trouble in my mid-20s. I split the rent and utilities with my siblings; doing so helped me pay off a ton of debt and increased my savings.
Alternatively, you could ask a friend or family member if they have an extra bedroom, or second home, for rent.
6. Create a list of references
If you want to convince a landlord to look past your eviction, gathering references could help your case.
For example, if you’ve paid your rent on time with a previous landlord, ask them to consider writing you a letter of recommendation. Additionally, you could ask your current, or former, supervisors or coworkers to be your references as well.
When you include your letters of recommendation, a landlord may be more willing to look beyond negative marks on your credit and rental history.
7. Find a compassionate landlord
Search for a new landlord who will empathize with your eviction story. Explain to them the reasons why you got evicted and tell them why it won’t happen again. Although some landlords won’t do a background check, I believe honesty is the best policy.
When I applied for a new apartment, I shared my eviction story with the rental office. The lady in the office appreciated me sharing my story and approved me for the apartment.
8. Put down a higher security deposit
Having an eviction on your record means landlords may consider you a riskier applicant.
If you want to improve your chances of landing a new apartment, you may have to put more money down. For example, if you can afford it, offer to pay the first and last month’s rent upfront. By sweetening the deal, you might just win over a new landlord!
Although an eviction can damage your rental history and credit score, you can recover from it. It won’t happen overnight. But if you follow some of the steps above, you can repair your credit score, rebuild your rental history, and find another place to rent.
Once you find a new place to rent, try your best to pay your rent on time and abide by all the rules of your leasing agreement.