As with most legal questions, the answer to this commonly asked question is it depends. Many tenants in Nassau County and Suffolk County who end up being respondents in our landlord-tenant eviction proceedings often ask this important question.
To properly answer this question, it is important to understand how judgments end up on your credit report in the first place. When someone is awarded a monetary judgment (a judgment for money) against you, they may do nothing with it, or they may seek to enforce it. If they wish to enforce it, they must first docket (file) the judgment with the county clerk. It is at this stage that your credit will be impacted, since the credit reporting agencies obtain information about monetary judgments from the county clerk’s office.
NOTE: Generally, only monetary judgments can be docketed with the county clerk.
If the person who is awarded a monetary judgment against you chooses to do nothing with it, then it should not appear on your credit report. Likewise, if the judgment against you does not include a monetary award, then it should not appear on your credit report either.
So, the first step to finding out if your landlord-tenant judgment will affect your credit, is to determine whether it includes a monetary award. In other words, is it a non-payment judgment in which the landlord was awarded back rent? If so, then the landlord will probably want to docket that judgment with the county clerk. In that case, it will likely appear on your credit report, adversely impacting your credit score.
However, if only a judgment of possession is entered (no money involved), then it cannot be docketed with the county clerk (see note above). Landlord-tenant judgments for possession only generally will not appear on your credit report.
At present, the New York State Court System’s online eCourts records only report landlord-tenant cases that have a future appearance date within the coming 14 days. This is, in part, because of the great volume of landlord-tenant cases brought in New York and the limitations of the Court System’s technology. There is also no official central database of non-monetary judgments, or of landlord-tenant judgments in general.
Additionally, landlord-tenant eviction proceedings must be brought in the dedicated landlord-tenant part of a designated court in the judicial district in which the property is located. Therefore, the only records of past evictions that did not involve money are kept in the courts themselves. So, unless a potential landlord knows what court you may have been evicted in, he or she will probably not be able to find any record of your past eviction history from any official source, unless it involved a monetary judgment against you.
If you are a tenant who has been served with papers in an eviction matter in Nassau County or Suffolk County, it is important that you have proper representation. An experienced landlord-tenant law firm, like the Murtha Law Firm, LLC, can represent you and make sure that in any settlement, no monetary award is included, so that your credit will not be adversely impacted.