HOUSTON - Many families are facing eviction proceedings now that courts are hearing cases again. While an eviction can hurt your credit and chances for renting again, there are ways to repair the damage.
One of the biggest challenges a renter in Texas faces is that being sued for eviction, even if you win and your case is dismissed, could damage your credit for up to seven years.
"I know some people, their life will never be the same again," said Reggie Fox, an attorney with Lone Star Legal Aid.
Fox says whether a tenant wins or loses, being sued for eviction can make renting again, getting loans, even getting a new job more difficult.
"Once the eviction is filed, it's on your record. I don't think that's right. You can expunge a criminal case, but there's nothing on the law in Texas, as of now, that will allow a person to get an eviction expunged,” said Fox.
Texas law does not allow for tenants to have an eviction suit expunged like many other states do.
“Even if you went to court and won, the eviction is on your record. So it's going to hurt you down the line and when you try to find another place to live, try to buy a house,” he explained.
State Representative Terry Canales (D – Hidalgo County) has twice filed bills to allow tenants to have dismissed evictions expunged. The bills failed both times.
But all is not lost for renters. There are steps you can take to repair the damage to your credit report. If your case resulted in a civil judgment against you, pay it and show proof to all three credit bureaus, Experion, Equifax, and TransUnion. And make payments on other debts on time to rebuild your credit score.
Renters with evictions can rent homes and apartments again, though you may have to offer more to persuade a landlord to lease to you. Offer an explanation for the eviction, provide references, offer to pay extra, such as two months of rent for a deposit, add a co-signer, and show proof of your income.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows you to view your rental history report so that you can see what landlords are reading about you. The Consumer Financial Protection Board has a list of companies that provide rental histories.
Ask your potential landlord which company report they will review and request a copy from that company. You can refute any errors you find.