Housing Court Records FAQ

Housing Court Records FAQ

The Basics of Housing Court Records

As a renter, understanding the housing record section on your background report can be daunting. Especially if an eviction (also known as unlawful detainer) is present. If you’re confused, take a look at some of the frequently asked questions and our answers below.

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Housing court records occur when a property owner (this could be a landlord, bank, or other lending institution) files with the courts to regain possession of a property. Generally, the records that are seen on a tenant screening report and used in the rental property space are not the full record of the civil court proceeding. They are an abstract of the judgment for possession in the case.

When a property owner or manager files to remove a person from a dwelling, it’s known as an eviction filing. Once filed, a judge will decide if the occupant or the owner will regain possession of the dwelling, resulting in a judgment. If the ruling is in favor of the owner or management company, then a writ of possession is issued by the court, enabling the owner to officially recover possession of the dwelling. Typically, the occupant will have a certain number of days to move out. 

Not every filing will result in an eviction! Most housing civil cases are settled before the case comes to trial. Many renters will pay the past due rent and stay, or they will agree with the property owner to move without going to trial.

All court records, whether they are filings or judgments, are deemed “public records,” however, there are cases that may be later expunged (removed from public record) or sealed by the court.

Maybe. If your state allows renters to expunge (remove from public record) civil court records, then it may be possible to expunge or seal the record. Typically, tenants would need a valid reason in order for the expungement to be granted. A common one would be that the unlawful detainer action was not awarded to the property owner.

No, housing records are not on the credit report. Sometimes a monetary judgment against a renter who didn’t pay their rent might get picked up by the credit bureau as a collection account. It’s also unlikely it will affect your credit score. After the credit bureaus released their National Consumer Assistance Plan, the likelihood of a monetary eviction judgment being picked up on the credit report is incredibly low.

No. housing records are civil cases, which is a different court division from criminal. It is possible for a criminal case to run concurrent with a civil case, and for both to have similar elements (for example, selling illegal substances within their rental unit), but they would be two separate cases.

Yes! Contemporary Information Corp. searches local courts from each major jurisdiction in the country daily for housing civil cases. This is necessary because there is no all-encompassing federal database.

Per the Fair Credit Reporting Act § 605.a, housing records are reported for 7 years. In Oregon, it’s 5 years (Senate Bill 91). If you see an eviction that is dated more than 7 years (or in Oregon’s case, five), your landlord cannot use that record when considering whether to rent to you or other prospective renters. There are other state and local restrictions on the reporting and use of eviction records that are addressed with our proprietary Regulatory Matrix

What About Criminal Records?