RENTERS’ RIGHTS: How long should an eviction stay on your records? A proposed bill would clear some records after 30 days
(WFSB) - All week long, the I-Team has been digging into issues that impact renters.
Now, we look at the impact of having an eviction on your record, even if the eviction was not your fault.
Many renters say it’s extremely difficult to find a new landlord who will rent to you if they see an eviction in your past.
Chief Investigative Reporter Sam Smink looks into how advocates and landlords are trying to get certain renters’ records wiped clean.
FACING AN EVICTION:
“I look at myself as a perfect tenant. I pay my rent. I’m quiet, I mind my own business,” says Iesha Davis.
Iesha Davis doesn’t understand why she is going through an eviction.
In August, her landlord gave her what’s known as a “notice to quit,” an official action notifying her she’d have to leave immediately when her lease was up.
“She expected me to be out within a couple days. And I wasn’t able to be out in a couple days, because it’s not easy to find housing,” says Davis.
Because she wasn’t able to move out quickly enough, her landlord filed what’s called a lapse of time eviction in the courts.
Davis says because eviction paperwork was filed in Housing Court, everywhere she puts in a rental application, she’s denied.
”They’re just looking at the fact that your name is in the courts and that you are being evicted. That’s all they look at,” says Davis. “It’s like being found guilty in the court of law without going through trial.”
Brittany Ignace is an attorney at Greater Hartford Legal Aid, representing Davis in her eviction case.
She says in housing court, landlords have all the power.
”They can be totally wrong with what they’re alleging. And obviously, until they get to trial, they don’t have to prove their case. But way before trial the case gets filed and becomes public information,” says Ignace.
HOW LONG DOES AN EVICTION STAY ON YOUR RECORD?
An eviction stays on a person’s record for three years if the landlord wins the case.
If a tenant wins the case, or a judge dismisses the eviction, or the landlord withdraws the case because of an agreement – the eviction still stays on your record for a year and doesn’t show you’re not at fault.
”One landlord told me, when they look it up, they don’t see what it’s for, they just see that it’s there. They will have to go into the notes to see what really happened,” says Davis.
Attorney Giovanna Shay works with Ignace at Greater Hartford Legal Aid.
She says they’re trying to get lawmakers to pass a bill that would erase certain eviction records.
”We ask that a bill be passed that dismissals and withdrawals and tenant victories be removed from the judicial branch website, within 30 days and that any data that is sold to commercial purchasers, has to match the newest version that would be available on the judicial branch website,” says Shay.
“I think they need to understand that it’s a problem for the whole state, for the sake of housing for everybody, for homelessness. For solving the big problem,” says Ignace.
Bob DeCosmo represents landlords, and also runs a tenant screening company.
He says when his company grabs data from the CT Courts to share with CT landlords, case detail isn’t provided.
”We don’t get the reason for the eviction which I think would be beneficial,” says DeCosmo.
DeCosmo says he supports the legislation Greater Hartford Legal Aid is asking for. He says if a tenant wins, the eviction should not show up on their record.
”You want to be fair; you don’t want to show a case where a tenant goes to court and wins,” says DeCosmo.
“I just feel judged. I feel it’s just unfair. It’s unfair,” says Davis.
The attorneys at Greater Hartford Legal Aid say if you have an eviction on your record, you should be honest with potential new landlords up front.
They recommend printing out any documentation related to it and bring that with you if you’re applying in person.
IF YOU WANT TO TESTIFY:
The bill that would reform eviction records is called House Bill No 6781, an Act Addressing Housing Affordability for residents in the state.
There is a Housing Committee public hearing this Tuesday at 11. Those who wish to sign up to testify or submit written testimony can do so in the links found on the agenda here, https://www.cga.ct.gov/2023/hsgdata/pha/pdf/2023PHA00228-R001100HSG-PHA.PDF.
For more information on help from Greater Hartford Legal Aid, head here.
To learn about Eviction Help in CT, head here and here: https://ctlawhelp.org/en/evictions-process-laws-connecticut
Experts suggested that renters can turn to the Community Renewal Team and the Salvation Army for financial help.
The Community Renewal Team’s website can be found here.
In January, the state launched a new fund to assist renters who may face eviction due to owing past due rent.
The Eviction Prevention Fund will provide households with up to $5,000 to pay off past due rent with their current landlord.
To apply, tenants must call the UniteCT Call Center at 1-844-864-8328 and be screened for eligibility. Eligible applicants will receive direct assistance from a local UniteCT Resource Center, where they will complete the application. If a tenant requires but does not have legal representation, access to mediators at Quinnipiac University’s Center on Dispute Resolution will be provided.
RENTERS RIGHTS’ SERIES:
On Monday, the I-Team highlighted Fair Rent Commissions and how they work. To see if your city/town has one, click here:
On Tuesday, the I-Team talked about what you can do if you’re facing an eviction. Legal resources can be found here.
On Wednesday, the I-Team looked at whether a cap on annual rent increases has worked in other cities and states.
And if you are looking for a list of financial resources, you can click here. We’ve listed all of them in our Thursday story on how to find an affordable rental.
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