Do you have an old eviction haunting you, and you can't seem to find a decent home to live in? The tenant-landlord relationship is an important one, one where both sides of the relationship need to feel comfortable that the relationship won't be violated or taken advantage of.
When you apply for a new house or apartment to rent, the landlord will typically look into past court records. In the State of Wisconsin, this information is public and accessible to anyone on the Wisconsin Court Systems website. If a landlord or property manager sees past eviction judgments on your record, they may see you as a risk and assume you do not have "paying your living expenses" as a top priority; Some Landlords will use this in their decision to not rent to you even when the eviction was old. Here are some tips to consider to clear up your past so you can move forward...
Each landlord will have a different tolerance to the eviction issue, varying between strict and lenient. Some may not allow any tenants with known evictions on their records ever. However, you may find that some (Strong Blocks included) will allow you to rent from them once you have satisfied or paid off your older eviction judgments in full and haven't had any new filings within the last 3 years.
If you'd like to do learn how to pay off unsatisfied judgments, keep reading (and FYI it DOESN'T always involve having to face your old landlord).
How to pay off past eviction judgments IN Milwaukee:
1. Check your name on "CCAP"
When you apply for a new house or apartment to rent, the landlord will typically look into past court records, which are accessible to everyone in the State of Wisconsin, on the Wisconsin Court Systems website. You need to know what they are seeing! Check yourself on Wisconsin's Circuit Court Access Portal (CCAP). Print off all the reports that have a "Class Code Description" of Small Claims, Eviction. These are the cases that start with the year of the case and then the letters "SC". You can typically get most of the information you'll need if the case is a valid case or it's not actually you from the description. Some don't have a birthdate, but you may have a common name. Be prepared to gather proof of your residency during the time of these eviction filings so you can include this in future rental applications knowing they might see this and think it's you.
2. Visit the courthouse
For the cases you think could be you or the ones maybe you missed (or maybe you don't have a computer at home and just want to speak with a human being), go to the Milwaukee County Courthouse,
MILWAUKEE COUNTY CLERK OF CIRCUIT COURTS
901 N. 9th Street, Room 104
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53233
Their Customer Service Hours are 9 to 11 a.m. & 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Monday - Friday
(Subject to Change)
Ask to find out what is listed on the court records under your name and let the team there know you just want to see if an old eviction can be satisfied.
3. Pay the judgment balance at the courthouse
Once you know how much you owe, pay it off or save your money up and come back to pay the court house directly - Paying at the court house will be the fastest method to getting your judgment to reflect as paid in full since it can be immediately satisfied. Remember there will be an extra filing charge (currently $5) in addition to the judgment amount that you'll need to pay to have the eviction judgment show up as satisfied. This is critical so that you can move forward knowing it's done. If you need to settle the balance for less than the amount owed on the judgment, you'll have to talk directly to the old landlord (See Step 6 below).
4. Get a proof of payment receipt
- Ask the court house employee to give you a receipt for your payment, make sure it has your name, case number, and the amount you paid listed. This is important in case there are any errors to prove you made your payment and can prove the judgment should show up as a satisfied judgment in the future.
5. Check to see if your payment has cleared
Wait a few days and go online to the Wisconsin Court Systems website again to see if your payment has been reflected. Keep checking every few days until it has cleared. If it doesn't clear, then go back to the court house and bring your receipt.
5. Settle the eviction judgment for less than the amount owed
Settling an old eviction judgment for less than the stated balance is the hardest route to take, but can be done. First, you'll need to find the old landlord. This can be easy if it's a big company, but hard if it's an individual or a company that is now doing business under a new name. One trick it to find the attorney listed under the "Plaintiff" who represented your old landlord and try to get them to help you "settle the judgment for less than the amount owed". Once you find the landlord and get a verbal agreement on the amount owed to satisfy the judgment, make a money order for the amount made payable to the landlord and agree to meet at the courthouse in room #104 to make your payment and so that the old landlord can remove the eviction. Remember that the landlord will need to pay the extra satisfaction fee (currently $5) to remove this from your name so you'll need to have a way to pay this as well assuming the old landlord is unwilling to pay for this. If you decide on another way to settle the old debt for less than what is owed remember 2 key points:
- NEVER provide electronic access to your bank account to anyone
- Always get your settlement/payment agreement in WRITING
If you have been rejected for an apartment or home; reach back out to the landlord whom you were rejected by and see if they would be willing to reconsider your application now that your judgment is satisfied.
If you are from outside of Milwaukee County, you may have to take different actions and this method may not apply to you. But you should still consider visiting your local court house as your first step in settling unpaid eviction judgments; ask around until you find the right person who can explain your county's processes.
As a disclaimer, this is not legal advice. Please seek an attorney if you have any questions or complications.
Looking to own a home, but can't quite qualify for a mortgage just yet? Well rent to own may be your best option. Strong Blocks 21 month rent to own program helps families get into a home while they work towards getting approved for a mortgage. If you have unsettled or unpaid evictions in your past, your first step will be working to get these paid or settled before applying to the program. Check all of Strong Blocks qualification criteria before submitting your application.
Written by Tanika Allen, Friends of Housing
Tanika Allen is the Leasing Agent for Friends of Housing Corporation and has been an asset to the company since 2005. She has an Associate’s degree in business management, has completed several landlord/tenant trainings, and obtains a Real Estate Broker’s license for the state of Wisconsin. Her most enjoyable task and main focus is to help individuals and families lease into nice and affordable single family homes, duplexes, and apartments. Friends of Housing Corporation is a property management company that has been in operation since 1997 and manages over 2100 units in the greater Milwaukee area for market rate families, but mostly elderly and low income families.