Being evicted from a property can be a terrible experience. The emotional and financial strain it puts on someone is immense and no one enjoys losing their home, whatever the reason may be.
Happily it’s not that common, even though evictions are on the increase. Every day in the UK 169 people1 are evicted from their homes and, although it is can be heart wrenching for those involved, it’s a small figure compared to the nine million people who rent a home within the private sector.
How evictions affect credit scores
The act of being evicted by itself cannot damage a credit score because credit referencing companies do not record evictions as part of their data gathering process. But there is one way being evicted CAN damage a tenant’s credit score.
If a tenants gets behind in their rent payments then most landlords will eventually go to court to ‘seek possession’ of their property and evict the tenant… but some will also apply for a ‘money order’.
If the judge grants them this then under some circumstances they can have a County Court Judgement (CCJ)or High Court Judgement (HCJ) issued against them to recover the debt and this will eventually damage their credit score when the CCJ or HCJ is picked up by the UK’s reference agencies and added to their credit file.
But many landlords don’t bother.They are happy just to evict a tenant and waive the money goodbye. This is because the process will often take more time, resource and money to chase a tenant for the unpaid rent. Most landlords prefer to move on, put the eviction behind them and channel their energies into finding a new tenant.
How long will a CCJ or HCJ affect a credit score?
Most credit reference agencies hold information going back six years about a person’s financial and debt payment history.
Why evictions take place
There are several reasons why a landlord will ask a tenant to leave a property. The most common is if the tenant hasn’t paid their rent for a significant period of time. Others include anti-social behaviour or breaking the terms of a rental contract – such as keeping a pet at the property when they’re not supposed to or subletting.
Landlords sometimes ask tenants to leave because they want to sell the property, or move back into it themselves. Current eviction laws mean a landlord can evict a tenant after the minimum rental period – which is usually six months – without giving a reason.
But a landlord cannot evict someone because a tenant has complained about a property. These are called revenge evictions and were recently outlawed.
What to do if you’re facing eviction
The process of being evicted can be complicated so most tenants seek help from their local Citizens Advice organisation. Also, housing charity Shelter offers emergency help and advice both online and on the telephone.