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If you’ve stumbled upon this article, is it likely that you have an eviction on your record or are scared you might get an eviction and wonder how to have it removed from your record. These days, with renting being the norm as opposed to homeownership, you want to create the best chance you can to have your rental application approved. It’s important to know if your eviction is or was even lawful and what you can do to keep the eviction off your record or if you can have your eviction removed if it is on your record. Many private landlords and leasing companies will check to see if you have been evicted before, which can be a large part of any decision on whether or not to rent to you. There are many possible options available, depending on your facts and circumstances. The number one takeaway from this article is that you should not wait to consult with an experienced Illinois eviction defense attorney. Specific steps must be taken to preserve your legal rights and rental record. Read on to find out more about eviction records in Illinois.
How Long does an Eviction Last on Your Record in Illinois?
Evictions will show up on your credit report, which is something that potential landlords check when you apply to rent a new apartment or house. Naturally, landlords are hesitant to rent to someone with an eviction on their record. Evictions can stay on your credit report for up to seven years, creating a great deal of trouble for someone who cannot afford to buy a home but still needs to secure housing. If you have an Illinois eviction record, chances are good that you will get turned down by the more reputable landlords and property management companies, placing yourself in a precarious position. Furthermore, even if the eviction does not appear on your credit report, or if a landlord does not run a credit report check, the eviction can still appear on an electronic docket search, which is public information. The landlord would be able to see if you have been in an eviction action before and, notably, if you disclosed that information on your rental application. You can take steps to either get the record sealed (in certain circumstances) or show that you have remedied the eviction, making you a more desirable candidate for renting.
Can I Remove my Eviction From my Record?
In certain circumstances, you can have the record of your eviction sealed by the court so that a potential landlord does not see it when they run a check of your renting history. Keep in mind that you have to do some extra work to make this happen; it is not an automatic process. There are two ways the court may seal your eviction action, mandatory and discretionary sealing.
Mandatory Sealing of Eviction Action:
This type of sealing must occur if the property the landlord is renting out gets foreclosed on. In these cases, the landlord has not paid their mortgage, and the tenants are evicted through no fault of their own once the bank takes over the property post-foreclosure. In this case, the tenants are without fault. They were not evicted for things like non-payment of rent or excessive damage to the property. When the property is foreclosed on, and the tenants are evicted, the court must seal the record so that the tenants are not negatively impacted further by circumstances out of their control. One other reason an eviction must be sealed is if you can prove to the court that there was no reason to evict you in the first place. For example, the landlord confused your file with someone else, or the eviction is retaliatory.
Discretionary Sealing of Eviction Action:
This type of sealing is a bit trickier. Discretionary means the eviction action can be sealed if the court decides that it is necessary based on the following factors:
- There is no basis in the law or in the relevant facts for the court to leave the action unsealed. An example would be that the eviction action was not adequately noticed or filed by the landlord.
- Discretionary sealing of the eviction case is in the interests of justice. What “the interests of justice” actually mean in this context is that if the court seals the case and does not allow the information to be public knowledge, would the landlord be damaged by it somehow?
- When the court considers the first two factors combined, sealing the case will not outweigh the public’s knowledge about the eviction.
If the tenant can prove to the court that the first two factors exist and the court decides that it would not be against the public interest to seal the record, the court may seal the eviction action from public view. The word “may” is what matters here; it is discretionary, so it is not mandatory, and the court does not have to seal if it does not think it is merited. Remember, though, that it can be tough to prove, depending on your individual facts and circumstances, and that sealing the court record might not make the eviction one hundred percent private. Sealed court documents are just that; sealing court documents does not mean that the eviction will not be found another way.
The most important thing you can do if you believe you are a good candidate for having your eviction case sealed is to ask the court to seal it immediately. Since dealing with the court system can be confusing and difficult for most laypeople, you should consult with an experienced Illinois eviction attorney as soon as you know your landlord wants to evict you. It is always better to start working on a defense right away rather than a day or two before the court. An Illinois eviction attorney will be able to advise you on your chances for any possible defense to the eviction.
Can I Have an Eviction Lifted from my Record in Illinois?
No, you cannot. It will be on your record if you are legally evicted, and a court does not seal the eviction. If you are trying to get past an old eviction where you did not get the record sealed, the best approach is to satisfy the judgment against you. What that means is when the court granted the eviction, a judgment was entered for whatever money the court awarded the landlord in the eviction case. Court records are generally public access, so a landlord can look at the docket and see that you were evicted and owe the landlord money. The money you owe the landlord could be for unpaid rent or the cost of repairs for excessive damage. Whatever amount of money you owe that landlord, you should pay. Then you should ask that the record be updated to “satisfied.” While you will still have the eviction on your record, the docket will now reflect that you paid the landlord the money that the court decreed you owed them. It can be beneficial to rebuilding your credibility with a potential landlord.
In short, while you cannot remove an eviction from your record in Illinois after the fact, there are some possible options that you should absolutely explore if you receive notice that you are going to be evicted. It is possible that you could have the eviction sealed so it will not appear as an Illinois eviction record. It is also possible that the eviction itself is illegal; an experienced Illinois eviction attorney will be able to tell you if the landlord is proceeding legally or if your eviction itself is unlawful. There are many possible options available with the help of an experienced attorney, and you may be able to fight the eviction. O’Flaherty Law has a team of Illinois eviction attorneys who would be happy to evaluate your case and let you know what your rights are when it comes to eviction. Feel free to give O’Flaherty Law a call today, and we will be happy to help you!