Seal That Case File!
If you’re a tenant getting evicted, there’s something you should try to accomplish when you go to court, which many people unfortunately aren’t aware of.
Here it is: you want to ask the court to seal your case file.
As a matter of court procedure, unlawful detainer cases are typically sealed for 60 days after filing. But after those 60 days are up, the file is unsealed and becomes public record. As an evicted tenant, that means that anyone can see the judgment ordering you to vacate the premises and pay any damages the court ordered. This is, generally speaking, not good! Your credit may be adversely affected; potential future landlords may be able to see the record of your eviction; it may potentially open you up to further hassles and problems down the line.
But if you ask, the court can order that the file remain sealed permanently.
Often, the landlord doesn’t even care. They just want you out. They’re a business, they just want to rent the apartment out again, and they don’t particularly mind one way or the other whether your case file becomes public record or not. But for you, the tenant, sealing the case file can be a boon that can help you avoid future problems relating back to this eviction. There is no reason why the eviction judgment against you has to be a matter of public record. On the other hand, having the case file sealed can’t hurt, and might help.
So if you have to go to court, do yourself a favor and ask the court to seal your case file. Better yet—get a good lawyer who is aware of these issues and can take the stress off your back!