By: Ilyce Glink and Samuel Tamkin
Q: I had a mortgage with a big box lender. I lost my job and hung on as long as possible. My home was actively listed for sale and we had a short sale contract and had jumped through every hoop they said, and at the last minute the bank said forget it, did not even look at the contract and said they were foreclosing.
I had already moved out of the home with their permission. I recently got a great job, and after living with my son and his wife for 3 years, attempted to lease an apartment. They said my credit was good enough, and even required no deposit, but found an eviction on another record they pulled, and refused me the apartment. This was the first I had heard of an eviction and I need to find out if I can get this off my record. I just want to begin my life again and feel this was wrongly placed there to begin with.
A: If your rental application was denied because of something on your credit report, you are entitled to see the credit report under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Call the apartment building and ask for a copy of the report. You need to see that information to determine if the eviction on your credit history belongs to you. It’s quite possible that you have an error on your report.
Then, go to AnnualCreditReport.com and pull a copy of your credit history from each of the three credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Transunion and Experian. See what is listed there. If you have a mistake on your credit history, you will need to file an affidavit contesting that piece of negative information.
You can file the affidavit yourself by going to the three credit reporting bureaus websites and downloading the forms. Fill out each form and send them back to the addresses indicated on the forms. Then, you will have to wait about 30 days to see if they remove the negative information.
One piece of advice, you need to make sure that the eviction information does not pertain to you or the property that you owned. You might find out that someone else out there has your same name and that eviction applied to that person. However, you also might find out that as part of the foreclosure, the lender was required to go through the channels of filing the eviction.
Even if you left the property and you thought that the lender was aware that you had left, the foreclosure process might have still required the lender to follow certain procedures. Those procedures might have included an eviction notice and process to make sure the lender had the legal right to enter into the property.
If your big box lender had no right to file the eviction notice, you should file a complaint with its federal regulator at HelpWithMyBank.gov. Write a short statement that explains what happened to you and why you don’t believe their actions were proper.
It’s unfortunate that your big box lender failed to approve your short sale; however, the company might have felt that they might get more money down the line by foreclosing and selling. We don’t usually see the banks benefit when they choose foreclosure over short sale, but they could have offered you a deed in lieu of foreclosure. You could have transferred title of the home to them and they would have avoided the whole process of foreclosing on the home. There are quite a number of mistakes that have happened during the housing crisis, and this could have been one more. In the meantime, we’re glad you’re moving onto your new life.
On a final note, it’s been a couple of years since the loss of your home, you should check all of your documents to see if any deficiency in your loan was released. That is to say, you probably still owed money to the bank even after the bank foreclosed and sold the home. The bank either wrote off that difference and released you from paying any more to them, or they retained the right to sue you in the future for the amount you owe.
As you move forward in life, you should understand where you stand with the bank. If the bank released you, the bank should have sent you a statement indicating that you were released and should have followed up with a tax statement 1099-C showing the amount of released debt. If the debt was released, you won’t have to deal with the lender again, but if the debt still exists, you might find yourself facing debt collectors in the future.
In any case, if you find out the eviction was placed on your credit history by mistake or the lender filed the eviction, you would then know this information and can tell the prospective landlord in advance what happened to you, how it occurred and why the lender had to file. That explanation ahead of time will be better than having the landlord find out through the credit checking process.