It seems you are finding it difficult to find a new home due to your past eviction record. The good thing is that you can pay off an eviction. The tenant-landlord relationship is of utmost importance, with both parties needing to feel secure and confident that their rights will be respected and not taken advantage of. When you apply to rent a new house or apartment, landlords often conduct background checks that include reviewing court records. In some states, such as Wisconsin, such information is publicly available. If a landlord or property manager comes across past eviction judgments on your record, they may consider you a risk and assume that paying your living expenses is not a priority. As a result, they may decide not to rent to you, even if the eviction is from an old incident.
Landlords differ in their tolerance for eviction issues, ranging from strict to lenient. Some landlords may have a strict policy of not renting to tenants with any past evictions on their records. However, some landlords may consider renting to you once you have fully satisfied or paid off your older eviction judgments and have had no new filings within the last 3 years.
How to pay off an eviction debt
Do the following to pay off an eviction:
1. Review your public records
Landlords often check public records¹ when evaluating rental applications. Try and print all the reports that pertain to Small Claims, Eviction cases. These cases are typically labeled with the year of the case followed by the letters “SC”. Review the information carefully to determine if the case is valid and if it indeed pertains to you.
You should have a clear understanding of the judgments against you to proceed with resolving them. Make sure to gather any documentation that can verify your residency during the time of the eviction filings. This evidence will be helpful when applying for future rentals to clarify any confusion.
2. Pay the judgment balance in full or negotiate a settlement
Once you have determined the amount you owe and identified the eviction judgments that need to be resolved, you have two options: paying the judgment balance in full or negotiating a settlement for a reduced amount. Here’s how you can proceed:
Examine the judgment information you obtained to identify the party claiming that you owe them. Look for their phone number or office address. You can run an online search using the name of the company, the property manager, or the person who filed against you. It can be challenging to find contact information if you don’t have your previous landlord’s phone number. Alternatively, you can try to find the attorney listed under the Plaintiff who represented your previous landlord.
When you find the landlord or their representative, discuss your intention to pay off an eviction debt. If you can afford it, you may choose to pay the judgment balance in full. Ensure that you receive proper documentation confirming the payment.
If paying the full amount is not possible, try to negotiate a settlement. Explain your financial situation and propose a reduced amount as a settlement. You may need to bargain and present your case to the landlord or their representative. So, make sure to maintain open communication and provide any supporting documentation to help justify your proposed settlement.
3. Try to reach an agreement with your previous landlord
Reaching an agreement may take time and effort. Be persistent, and if necessary, seek legal advice to assist you in negotiating a fair settlement or determining the best course of action. Do note that it can be tough to pay off an eviction debt for less than the stated balance compared to paying in full, but it is possible.
- Contact the landlord and engage in a conversation to reach a verbal agreement on the amount owed to satisfy the judgment.
- Prepare a money order for the exact agreed amount payable to the landlord.
- Arrange a meeting with your previous landlord to exchange your money order for a signed and notarized Satisfaction of Judgment form.² This form should include all the relevant information from your judgment case, such as creditor (Landlord/Plaintiff), debtor (You/Defendant), date filed, amount of payment, and case number.
- The “Fully Satisfied” box must be checked by the previous landlord on the satisfaction form to make sure that the agreed amount is considered fully settled, as opposed to a “partially satisfied” lien. Make sure the agreed amount is enough for the landlord to check this box.
The landlord can obtain the necessary form for signing and notarizing the satisfaction of the judgment. You can inquire about this form and offer to assist in obtaining it. Your previous landlord should sign the satisfaction form and have it notarized in exchange for your payment. If the landlord does not have access to a notary, suggest meeting at a bank where notarization services are available to properly document the transaction and make it legally binding.
If you choose an alternative method to pay off an eviction debt for less than the owed amount, remember two important points from the previous information:
- Use a money order for your payment and don’t provide electronic access to your bank account. This ensures a secure transaction and protects your financial information.
- Insist on a written agreement for your settlement or payment arrangement at the same time you make the payment.
You also want to make a copy of the satisfaction form and keep your money order receipt safe. The original form will be required for the next step.
4. Go to the county courthouse
Take the necessary documents and payment to the county courthouse during office hours. You will typically require a money order fee (about $5 or $6) to cover the satisfaction fee required for filing your satisfaction and updating the eviction judgment status to “paid” under your name. You will also need:
- Original satisfaction of judgment form signed and notarized.
- Money order receipt for payment made to the landlord.
Take note of the customer service hours as they are subject to change. You can also call the courthouse using the phone number on their website for your specific county.
Meanwhile, if you are visiting the courthouse in person, you would have to go to the Record Center where you can request and obtain the relevant file associated with your case. With the obtained file in hand, head over to the cashiers with your original notarized Satisfaction of Judgment form and money order. Submit the file alongside the satisfaction of judgment form and the money order to the cashiers. They will assist you with the payment process and guide you through the remaining steps required to complete the submission.
5. Get proof of payment receipt
After making the payment at the courthouse, ask the courthouse employee to provide you with a receipt that acknowledges your payment. Ensure that the receipt includes your name and case number. This receipt is evidence that you paid off the eviction debt. It acts as proof that you have made the payment and should be used to demonstrate that the judgment should be marked as satisfied.
6. Verify if your payment has cleared
Allow a few days for the payment to process, and then visit the court systems website of your location. Check if your payment has been reflected in the system. Repeat this process every few days until the payment has been successfully cleared and updated in the records.
If you pay off an eviction debt but it does not clear or is not reflected in the records, go back to the courthouse with your proof of payment receipt and copies of all the relevant documents. Submit this information to the appropriate personnel at the courthouse so that they can assist you in resolving any issues.
If you have faced rejection for an apartment or home and your application was turned down, reach out to the landlord again. Present proof to the landlord that you paid off your eviction and inquire if they would be willing to reconsider your application.