how to look up evictions

There’s one word that all experienced landlords have come to fear: eviction.

While sometimes eviction might be a necessity, it’s never an easy process. While the ultimate goal should always be to prevent an eviction situation from ever occurring, the simple fact is that it can and will happen eventually.

But the word “eviction” can be a helper, too. By learning how to look up evictions, you can find out if potential tenants have a record of evictions.

This record’s presence can inform you about what type of renter they might be, and ultimately, may help you avoid a future eviction. All you need is time and references to do thorough eviction checks.

Checking eviction history before you rent to a new tenant is a key part of choosing the right tenants who will be long-term, profitable renters. Renting to those with a long history of eviction is only sure to cause more grief, so learning how to avoid that situation is essential.

Here’s what you need to do.

A Table of Contents for Looking Up Tenant Evictions

Why Is An Eviction Record Search Necessary?

Before we get into the details of how to check eviction history, you may still be curious about why this check is necessary.

Simply put, people tend to have patterns of behavior. If a tenant has been evicted from a property one time before, this shows that they may find themselves in the same situation again in the future.

If they’ve been evicted multiple times, you can be all-but-sure that they will be a difficult tenant to work with.

Eviction only occurs in the most serious of cases. There are times when a tenant does so much damage to property or simply refuses to pay their rent, and those are the times when an eviction occurs.

If a potential tenant has a history of eviction, you will want to consider their profile much more carefully before even playing with the idea of renting to them. If you don’t, you’ll be putting yourself and your business at risk.

Top Eviction Check Methods

Method 1: Court Records

The most direct and thorough way to find out if a potential tenant has a history of eviction is to check court records. Every state, county, and area may have different courthouses, and  so it may seem impossible to find out if this tenant has ever done wrong before.

First, find your state’s website.

Court records can be searched by state. To find your state’s website, which can be used to search court records, use this resource. Each state may have multiple websites that can be checked for various home-related issues, so be sure to check each one thoroughly.

Second, search the names.

Once on the court records website, search the potential tenants’ name to find out if they have any eviction records in their past.

You will want to be sure that you are thorough and check more than just the main name that they gave you on their application. In addition to their currently used name, check the following names:

  • Birth name
  • Nicknames
  • Alternate names
  • Names with or without initials
  • Name before or after marriage/divorce

By ensuring that you check every combination of their name that you can come up, you will be able to make sure that there aren’t any records that you are missing.

Third, get access to the record.

While you cannot view the full record for eviction cases in every state, you can get a thorough briefing or full access in most states with this type of case.

It’s important that you actually view the eviction case. Don’t let the presence of an eviction case cause you to write off a potential tenant.

In some cases, bad landlords try to wrongfully evict a tenant, and this would still cause an eviction case to be present in the person’s history.

While learning how to check eviction records, it’s essential that you consider the meaning of every result that you find in your eviction record search to give every tenant a balanced chance.

If you cannot view the record online or travel to the courthouse in person, call them to see if you can pay a copy fee to have a record of the case mailed to you.

Method 2: Hire A Third Party Service

As you can see, doing the work of finding the right courthouse, checking every name that the tenant may have used in the past, and collecting the full court information can be quite the task.

Plus, you may not have any idea what states that your potential tenant has lived in during their life!

Because figuring out how to check eviction history can be quite complicated, there are a number of services out there that include eviction checks as part of their tenant screening services. A screening service can do a national eviction search thoroughly and effectively.

If you aren’t experienced or confident in your ability to do the research yourself for every potential tenant, it may be time to hire a screening service to help you narrow down the list of maybes so that you can find the perfect renter.

Choose Your Tenants Carefully

Renting out property is about more than just finding someone who is willing to live in your rental. It’s about finding tenants who will have a good relationship with both you and your property.

If you don’t choose tenants carefully and learn how to check eviction records, you could be putting your entire business at risk.

Be sure to check for a history of evictions:

  • Search courthouse records.
  • Consider every possible nickname.
  • Hire help for more detailed eviction reviews.

By paying attention to the history of potential tenants, you’ll be able to make smarter choices about who you invite to live in your rental properties.

About the author

I believe the biggest mistake you can make in life is not learning from them. I've been a landlord since 2009 and still learning all the time.

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