I had an eviction in NYC how do I solve it?
November 27, 2018 7:36 PM   Subscribe

Due to severe health issues I spiraled into a depression. One day I just left my apartment in NYC. Just packed my necessities and left. I’m better now ~4 years later but I’m sure I was evicted as I just stopped paying rent. I’m making very good money now (150k+) and would like this taken care of. What recourse do I have?

How do I do this? I’m a bit embarrassed about the entire thing. I started having severe seizures. I was afraid to leave the house. I had seizures on subway platforms, and began thinking one day I’d just fall and get hit by something. Just some back story as to why I think I have an eviction. I just left and went to family (it was a tumor, now resolved).

I have a good job, successful and trying to put my life together as it was. For the last 4-5 years I’ve been living with shitty roommates who didn’t do credit checks and random sublets or executive housing that doesn’t require credit checks.

My question is twofold:

1. How do I get this off my record or is this something that can be explained away with literally paying some crazy advance?

2. Will other states find this and will it eventually “expire” if I lay low?

I completely own up to doing something irresponsible. I passed background checks at several hard to pass jobs so I assume it isn’t a huge red flags for jobs, or just doesn’t show up. I’m guessing the fundamental answer is to see a lawyer, but I’d like to understand the ramifications before I do so, so I’m not blindsided.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (9 answers total)
It might not appear on your credit check. If you just walked away, chances are your landlord skipped the hassle of evicting by simply changing the locks and re-renting. I don’t think this is on your credit check.

If you have a friend with a Lexus Nexus account, you can search your name in court records.

For $20 or less you can search your name on those dumb people search sites. I’m not going to make a recommendation for a site. Try your name on a few, they sometimes indicate with a free search whether or not the person you are searching (in this case your name!) has any legal judgments attached to the name. It’s that easy.

Actually, a quick google tells me Intellius might be a reputable background search site.

Maybe ask a new question if the eviction comes up on what to do?

I would probably provide some sort of proof of tumor and surgery when applying for new apartments IF there was an eviction on my record, but honestly? I think you are fine. You make great money. Check your credit report, if it’s good then you’re good. If you need help improving your score, ask a new question.

If after pulling your credit check and doing an online background search you know for certain the eviction will show up when applying for a new apartment...

“In 2014 I was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had emergency surgery. Obviously I’ve fully recovered, but unfortunately my former landlord in NYC sued me for eviction because from their perspective I disappeared. If you require further documentation please let me know.”

Then make decisions on whether what any perspective landlord wants to see is lawful or feels like a violation of your privacy. You don’t have to provide them with proof! You can walk away from anything that makes you feel uncomfortable!

Anyway. I kinda doubt this is on your credit check or in public court documents. Pay for an Intellus search + check your credit report and find out.
posted by jbenben at 8:03 PM on November 27, 2018 [7 favorites]

IANAL Check your credit report; that's where it would show up in a background check. There might have been a judgment, so there may be a court record. Eviction in NYC . How to Find if a Tenant Has Evictions in New York State

Find a tenant/landlord lawyer in NYC, talk to them, get them to do an eviction report or whatever. Once you have information, you can decide how to proceed.

You were ill; you did what you needed to do to care for yourself. You can add a letter to your credit report stating that you were ill and that's the cause of eviction. You sound like you have a lot of shame; you don't need to.
posted by theora55 at 8:04 PM on November 27, 2018 [11 favorites]

You can background check yourself if you want, but honestly this is rarely the Permanent Record situation you are fearing, especially after 4 years. Go on and apply for real places to live, if someone comes back to you about it just be like "yeah I had an abrupt health crisis, that's dealt with". Given your current income, because all most places really care about is if you can pay rent right now, it will probably be a total nothingburger. The absolute worst that can happen is you get an application rejected, the police aren't going to come for you or anything.

And it does not make you a bad person, there's no reason for the amount of shame and self-punishment you're carrying around this. American culture has a very strange hangup about breaking leases and other rental blips, it's not actually the black mark you think it is.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:07 PM on November 27, 2018 [11 favorites]


This summarizes things.

Housing court has no jurisdiction if you had left the apartment. I doubt proceedings had started against you.
posted by kinoeye at 8:07 PM on November 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

Nthing you seem to have a lot of shame, but this is fine and understandable. I hope you find a way to work through you feeling because there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
posted by jbenben at 8:08 PM on November 27, 2018 [4 favorites]

I am a property manager in NYC. IANYpropertymanager, and I am NOT giving any legal advice - just my personal experience managing apartments in NYC for 14 years :)

The most important question to me is whether your apartment was rent controlled or rent stabilized. If it was, then it can be a big hassle for your landlords if you just disappear. SO if it was, then you should offer to sign a surrender notice. I've had many tenants do this. It means you are giving up future rights/claims to the unit. If I was your (past) landlord, this would be a big concern of mine.

If not, and you were just in a regular market rate apartment, then the worst they probably did was send you to collections for past due rent. If this didnt show up in your credit/background checks, then they probably didnt even bother doing that. So again, you can contact them and offer to pay arrears if you want to clear your conscience. But I wouldn't worry about anything following you around after all this time!
posted by silverstatue at 8:09 PM on November 27, 2018 [7 favorites]

And one more thing - as people have pointed out above, you had extenuating circumstances and shouldn't beat yourself up for it! It is extremely commendable that you want to make amends after all this time. Congrats on getting healthy and to a better place!
posted by silverstatue at 8:13 PM on November 27, 2018 [9 favorites]

Do you remember being sued by your landlord? You should have been served, personally, with a copy of the complaint.

Really the only way this is going to show up on your easily-accessible public record (as opposed to a detailed background check) is if you were sued for nonpayment or eviction and the landlord got a judgment OR if the rent went to collections. If you have an actual judgment of eviction or for breach of contract against you and you were never served, you can usually bring an order to show cause to vacate the judgment under CPLR 5015(a)(1) or (4), as the court never had jurisdiction over you. There are volunteer lawyers for this kind of action, but if you are making a decent living now, I would recommend getting a paid attorney to do it. If the rent went to collections, you can try contacting the agency and offering to pay in return for having the item deleted from all your credit reports. They may or may not agree.

Note that even a collections note or judgment will drop off your credit report after seven years as long as you do not pay or agree to pay anything on the debt, so you may just want to wait it out.

Please also note that YOU ARE FEELING GUILTY ABOUT A BRAIN TUMOR. Stop it!
posted by praemunire at 9:40 PM on November 27, 2018 [6 favorites]

I am a landlord in a different state and I am confident that you are in much less trouble than you think!

Normally, the eviction does not go on your credit history at all, just your civil record (the only way that your credit history would be affected is if your landlord chose to take the eviction to the next level and get a judgement against you for the amount of money owed but that's exceedingly unlikely). Moreover, you can get an eviction record removed altogether if you can show hardship and extenuating circumstances - you just schedule a court hearing and tell the judge about the severe health issues you've described so they understand it wasn't just you being an irresponsible tenant. I can't imagine the judge and the landlord not being sympathetic to a tumor for chrissakes (the landlord does have a right to be present at the hearing but this is highly unlikely as well).

However all that is moot if you have not been evicted in the first place, and I bet you haven't. Eviction is such a monumental pain in the ass for the landlord - even in my state where it's fairly straightforward it costs easily in the thousands and takes a couple months in the simplest of circumstances - I can't imagine anyone going through an eviction for a tenant that had already left the premises. But do a background check on yourself to make sure, and for your own peace of mind. For example here you can get a background report + credit check for $40.

If by some slim chance you do see an eviction on your report and you can't get it expunged, or you can't afford to wait for a court hearing, it's still not the end of the road. Just attach a brief explanation to your rental application. But don't reference depression, say something to the effect of, "Dear landlord or property manager, in the interest of full disclosure, 4 years ago I had an eviction. I discovered I had a tumor and had to get emergency treatment/surgery. I could not wait to go through a formal lease termination process so I just took all my stuff and left the apartment. Thank you so much for understanding!"

And please stop beating yourself over it, no sane landlord would blame a tenant under those circumstances!
posted by rada at 9:12 AM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

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