How to Find an Apartment in New York with an Eviction on Record

Ruth Shin
Ruth Shin

RENT

NY Subway

With numerous evictions every year in New York City, if you find yourself with this blemish on your record, you are one of tens of thousands. Being evicted not only affects your immediate housing situation, but can hinder your ability to find housing for years--seven years to be exact. Knowing your options and using your strengths might help land an apartment you want.

Pull Up Your Record or Rental History

In order to defend and prepare yourself against what a potential landlord might say or think, you will need to know what actually appears on your record. You can do this by going to a third party site that can pull this up. By knowing what it contains, you can correct errors and know how to talk to a landlord about the eviction.

Make sure you don’t appear on someone else’s lease. This error can happen when friends and family occupy your old apartment or vice versa. You’ll need to clear it up before you apply for another apartment. If an old landlord mistakenly reported your rent payments as late, reach out to them with evidence that it was paid on time so they can correct the information.

Get Your Outstanding Balances Paid

If you still have outstanding rent owed to a former landlord, make sure that is paid up in full. Also, be certain to pay off any outstanding collections on utilities, credit payments, or medical bills.  They will still probably negatively affect your credit report and background check, but nothing looks worse than open collections on your record.

Try to Prevent or Expunge an Eviction on your Record

If you can work something out with a landlord in writing who is in the process of evicting you or has just recently done so, you can get the judge to dismiss or remove the eviction which could be due to a misunderstanding or a convincing defense.

Before getting a landlord to the point of evicting you, try to get a mediator to mediate an agreement between you two, and have a written agreement. If your landlord has already gotten a court to order your eviction, investigate whether your landlord has gone through the proper legal procedure. If they have not, the eviction should be thrown out and certainly from your record.

If you have a valid defense against the case, appear in court prepared to win. The best way to win is to show up, be prepared, and have legal representation. Most tenants who are being evicted by their landlords, don’t even show up to court when they actually have grounds against the landlords themselves.

Use Your Credentials

To best way to make a great impression on a potential landlord is show that you have a good income and great credit. If your eviction was not based on payment in arrears, it probably won’t have an effect on your credit score. Delinquent payments and evictions may appear on your credit report as an open collection, which will hurt your score in an impactful way. In this case, you will need time to repair your credit. The collection will stay on your record for seven years, however, this does not mean that you can’t get your credit score back up to good status in one to two years, with steady monitoring, payments, and care.

Speak to the Landlord

You will still probably need to explain to the landlord about the eviction, even with great credentials. Be honest and tell your story to the landlord. If the issue has already been resolved with your evicting landlord, get a letter from him or her about the case being closed. Perhaps you have a great relationship with your current or other older landlords. Let them write up great reference letters for you. You can get good character reference letter from friends or colleagues as well.

Other Ideas to Help Your Standing

If all else fails, depending on the nature of the eviction, you can offer a guarantor or cosigner for the lease or offer a larger security deposit. If you ran an unsanctioned business on your old premises and prompted an eviction, you can prove to a potential landlord how you now have a real office or place of business, or are now employed full-time doing something else. Or for example, if the reason for eviction was your profession as a musician creating a noisy situation, you can provide documentation that you’ve now secured a studio space and show you are committed to not recreating the same scenario. Whatever the problem was, try to display the remedy.

Approach homeowners who are renting out units or rooms. They’ll be a lot easier to talk to and may not even pull up a full background report. You might also try renting a sublet apartment or try staying with family or friends.

What to Do If You Might be Evicted

If you are currently facing the possibility of an eviction, the best solution for this situation is to negotiate and try to work out a deal with the landlord. The landlord can find grounds to evict you if you have not paid the rent or consistently paying late, violated the terms of your lease, whether that means damage to the property, disruption of the building and/or neighbors, illegally subletting, or running an unsanctioned business on the premises.

Illegal and Unfair Grounds for Eviction

Even if you are late in rent payment or running a business illegally on the premises, the landlord should give you a grace period to cure these. If you landlord is unfairly accusing you of not paying the rent, damaging the property or operating an unsanctioned business on the premises, be sure to pull up a record of canceled checks or payment confirmations or provide evidence that you have fixed the problem in the given grace period.

The Landlord Has Not Provided Basic Utilities or Repairs

Perhaps you have withheld rent because the landlord has not maintained or made necessary and requested repairs to the unit or provided basic running water or heat. You should make all requests in writing to your landlord. By New York law, you have the right to withhold rent if landlord has neglected his or her duties. Make sure you keep a clear record of the proceedings or lack thereof. Consult a lawyer if your landlord takes action to evict you.

Discrimination

Under federal law, a landlord cannot discriminate by race, religion, gender, nationality, familial status, or disability. NY State further provides protections to people from discrimination according to creed, age, sexual orientation, military and/or marital status. If you feel your landlord has unfairly moved to evict you based on one of these characteristics, you can defend your case with this knowledge. Do your research on how the law protects you, and consult legal advice if necessary. If cost is an issue, you can look into state, local, or community-based agencies and legal nonprofit organizations who might be able to provide you with legal assistance.

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