What You Need to Know About Renting With Dismissed Eviction
If you've had an eviction filed against you, you probably still have lingering concerns over your ability to rent, even if the case was later dismissed. You might wonder: Does this hurt my rental history? Will landlords understand what happened? Am I stuck with subpar housing options now?
To make sure you're going into the next phase of your rental journey from an informed perspective, you'll need to understand the reasons for dismissing an eviction proceeding in the first place, and how you can actively fight to have your case thrown out if you're currently facing the threat of eviction. Getting an eviction lawsuit dismissed can allow you to stay in your rental unit and avoid having an eviction on your record.
Staying solution-focused and following our tips on communicating with future landlords will help you find quality housing. While an eviction case can initially strike fear in you, it doesn't necessarily have to end badly for you. Have hope – you can still secure rental housing in the future!
Reasons for eviction
As a renter, you can get evicted for one of two main reasons:
1. Lease violations
This is when you break clauses and rules in the lease agreement. Some common lease violations that prompt evictions are:
- Not paying rent on time or having a large rent owed.
- Having unauthorized occupants, guests, or pets.
- Causing damage to the rental property.
- Disturbing neighbors or disruptive behavior.
If you don't fulfill your part of the agreement stated in the lease, the landlord can evict you. You should understand the dos and don'ts in your lease to avoid violations.
2. No-fault evictions
In some cases, landlords can evict you through no fault of your own. These no-fault evictions include situations like:
- The landlord deciding not to renew your fixed-term lease when it ends.
- The landlord terminating your month-to-month tenancy without cause.
- The property getting foreclosed on or sold to a new owner.
With no-fault evictions, you didn't necessarily do anything wrong as a tenant. But the landlord can still ask you to vacate the property, usually after giving you proper notice.
Understanding the eviction lawsuit process
If your landlord files for eviction, they have to go through the legal eviction process. They must formally give you a written notice stating you have violated the rental agreement. This could be for reasons like failure to make a rent payment, property damage, or having unauthorized guests; basically, for any reason the landlord claims.
If you don't correct the lease violation or move out by the notice deadline, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against you and take the case to small claims court. You will receive an official summons instructing you to appear in court on a specific date. You must show up, or else the judge will likely rule in the landlord's favor by default.
During the eviction proceedings, the judge will hear arguments from both you and the landlord. If the case isn't resolved on that day, the court will schedule a full trial. During the trial, the judge will consider all the evidence and arguments from both sides, and then issue a ruling, either allowing the eviction or dismissing the case.
Motion to dismiss the eviction order
If you’re served with an eviction lawsuit, you can fight it and potentially get the case dismissed. To contest the lawsuit, you'll need to file a motion to dismiss the eviction order against you. This motion formally requests the court to throw out the case due to problems with the eviction filing process.
For example, you can request a dismissal if:
- The eviction notice from the landlord had an error or the landlord fails to follow the proper protocol.
- The landlord made factual mistakes or misrepresentations in the eviction complaint.
- There are technical flaws in how the lawsuit itself was delivered or how the landlord filed.
- You have evidence that refutes the grounds the landlord claimed for eviction.
When filing a motion to dismiss, you basically argue that the eviction is invalid and ask the court to drop the case. You should provide solid documentation and evidence to back up your reasoning and, if possible, work with a legal aid attorney who can help craft your argument and make sure your motion is procedurally correct.
What happens when you win?
If the judge rules in your favor and dismisses the eviction case, you get to stay in your rental unit without having an eviction record. Make sure to have written documentation from the court confirming the dismissal of the case. This will be important if it still shows up on tenant screening background checks later.
Continue to pay rent on time and follow your lease agreement after winning in court. Don't give the landlord any new reasons to seek eviction again.
Finally, attempt to smooth things over with the landlord, especially if you plan to stay. Let them know you intend to be a responsible, rule-abiding tenant moving forward after getting the dismissal. Keeping open communication can get your occupancy back on good footing.
What happens when you lose?
If the judge decides in the landlord's favor, you'll be ordered to vacate the property within a certain timeframe, usually 2-7 days. This is a judgment for possession and means the landlord has legal rights to remove you from their rental property. If you don't leave by the deadline, the landlord might get the local sheriff to carry out the physical eviction per the court order.
Having an eviction judgment on your record will also make it hard for you to rent again in the future. Landlords will see you went through the full court process and lost, which is a big red flag, as an eviction judgment signals that you pose a risk to landlords.
Reversing an eviction judgment
Once a judgment is issued, it becomes challenging to overturn. The court order legally gives the landlord power to remove you from the rental property.
Tenants may file a motion to vacate the judgment, asking the court to withdraw its ruling. Grounds for a motion to vacate can include:
- Fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct by the landlord in obtaining the judgment.
- New evidence coming to light that you couldn't previously present.
- Serious procedural errors made in the case or with the judgment.
- Changes in circumstance after the fact warrant reconsideration.
You need strong legal grounds and proof to succeed with such a motion. Keep in mind that the window to file is usually short after the judgment, so if you plan to fight against the judgment, you'll need to gather your evidence quickly.
Getting an eviction case dismissed
Having eviction cases dismissed comes as a big relief. However, you will still need to take proactive steps to demonstrate responsibility and rebuild landlord trust after an eviction filing.
When applying to a new rental, be upfront with the landlord about your dismissed case by showing proof and factual context right away. Understand that landlords may still have hesitations about the perceived risk, so be prepared to address concerns over your ability to pay rent reliably and follow lease terms going forward.
The dismissal provides an opportunity to restart your tenant-landlord relationship on stronger footing. However, you must be willing to acknowledge landlords’ needs to see accountability and mitigated risk in order to secure an apartment or other rental housing.
Eviction dismissal FAQs
How long will a dismissed eviction stay on my rental record?
How long a dismissed eviction stays on your rental record depends on how rental databases and agencies report it. Usually, it stays on your record for a few years. But as time goes on and you build a solid rental history, the impact of the dismissed eviction tends to fade away.
Are there any resources or organizations that can help me find housing with a dismissed eviction?
Yes — if you've experienced a dismissed eviction and need help finding housing, resources are available to assist you. Local tenants' rights organizations, legal counsel agencies, and legal aid services can provide guidance and support.
They offer advice on how to present your rental history and connect you with landlords who may understand your situation.
How can I rebuild trust with landlords after a dismissed eviction?
Rebuilding trust with landlords after an eviction that was dismissed is a process that takes time and effort. To start, try to achieve a stable income and a good credit history, as this provides some assurance that you'll be able to pay rent on time in the future.
It's also helpful to share references from previous landlords who can confirm that you've demonstrated responsible behavior since the dismissal. Finally, be prepared to address any concerns or questions that potential landlords may have.