What to do if you get evicted: Finding a new place to live

If you are being evicted, you’re not alone. In 2015 alone, roughly 2.7 million renters experienced evictions in the U.S.1

Receiving an eviction notice can be scary and overwhelming. But if you make a plan and follow through, with time and effort, you will get through it. Follow our suggestions and links for what to do if you get evicted.

If you’re in the Des Moines area, community resources are available to help you if you face a housing emergency. Check out our list of resources for rent assistance and emergency housing.

Click Here for the “If You’ve Been Evicted” E-book

The eviction process

Most of the time an eviction is due to a violation of the lease or not paying rent. Whatever the reason, according to the law, landlords need to take specific steps to evict tenants.

Legally, you cannot be evicted without notice. You must receive written notification about the eviction at least three days before it can go to court (3 day Quit Notice)*. If the eviction is due to unpaid rent, you may pay the rent within those three days, and you can stay. If the eviction is because of another reason, and you don’t fix the issue, it will continue to court.

Within 8-15 days after the 3 day notice period, there will be a court hearing. You have the right to go to the court hearing and speak to the judge (for legal assistance, call Legal Aid). The eviction has to go to court before it can proceed. If you win, the case is dismissed, and you can stay. If the landlord wins, the local sheriff will serve you an order to move right away. This typically happens within 7 days of the hearing.

If you must move, it’s easier to move out on your own. If you don’t, the sheriff and landlord can remove your belongings and change the lock. If you leave your stuff behind after the final date you must move, the landlord is free to sell, keep or dispose of items left behind.

If you think your eviction is unlawful, contact Iowa Legal Aid for more information on how to proceed.

Where will you live if you are evicted?

If you don’t have the option to fix the lease violation or pay rent so you can stay, you need to start searching for a place to live as soon as you receive notice.

Since you’re working with such a short timeline, you may have to rely on friends, family, or other temporary housing until you find another place to live.

Finding a new place

Being evicted can make it harder to rent in the future, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t find a new place to rent. While some landlords are reluctant to rent to tenants who have a previous eviction, others are more lenient.

There are several things you can do to improve your chances of being able to find a new place to rent.

Explain and negotiate

  • Explain your situation and be honest with landlords and property managers. You want to start off on the right foot to let your new landlord know they can trust you from the beginning. Lying shows and can cost you later.

If your eviction is due to a job loss, but you now have a job and receive a regular paycheck, some landlords will overlook the eviction. Same goes for a medical issue (if you couldn’t pay rent due to health reasons).

  • Don’t talk trash about your old landlord or place the blame on them. This tells the new landlord you might be a difficult tenant.
  • Negotiate the lease. Maybe you can put down a larger deposit than required. Maybe you can pay a few months rent upfront. Show them you will go above and beyond.
  • Don’t get discouraged and give up if you’re having trouble finding a landlord that will rent to you. If you have the money to pay the rent, in time, you will be able to find a landlord that will rent to you.

Put your best foot forward

When you meet with a property manager to talk about renting their property, make a good first impression.

  • Show up early
  • Be well groomed and well dressed
  • Smile
  • Be polite, please and thank you
  • Drive a clean car
  • Make sure the kids aren’t tired and are prepared to make a good impression themselves
  • Talk about positive things in your life – work, kids, community involvement.

Provide proof of your ability to pay rent

When you apply for a new place, show the landlord your most recent bank statements, pay stubs, and a credit report. If you are typically on time with payments, your credit report will reflect this. By providing proof you can pay the rent, the landlord may be willing to overlook a previous eviction.


  • Make things right with your former landlord, even if you’re still being evicted. Make up for missed rent payments, repair damage to the home, or otherwise make amends with your former landlord. You can then ask them if they will make a recommendation on your behalf. If you were a good tenant, but just fell on hard times, the landlord might give you a recommendation. Either way, making amends shows you are willing to make things right.
  • If you had good relationships with previous landlords, list them as references. It helps to contact them ahead of time and let them know you are looking for a new place and ask if you can list them as a reference.
  • Use employer and coworker references if you don’t have any good landlord references. It doesn’t look as good to list family members on a reference list.


Evictions are public records since they go through the court system. While landlords can notify credit bureaus of an eviction, many do not. That said, some property management companies will turn evictions over to collection agencies. If this happens, it will be reported to the credit bureaus.

  • If you’re not sure if you have an eviction on your credit report, you can get a free credit report: see AnnualCreditReport.com.
  • If the unpaid rent is on your credit report, it will be there for seven years.
  • If you have paid all back-rent, make an effort to note that on your credit report. Ask the landlord if they will remove the eviction from your credit history.
  • Work to improve your credit: pay all your bills before their due date and pay your debts, if possible.
  • Find a co-signer to sign your new lease. Your co-signer needs to have income, good credit and references. They must know that they are responsible if you don’t pay your rent on time (and it could impact their credit if this happens).

More options

  • Ask family and friends if they know of anyone that would rent to you. Asking for help from people that know you (and can vouch for you) helps.
  • Contact property management companies and explain your situation. They work for numerous landlords and could direct you to the properties/landlords that might be able to work with your situation.
  • Ask family or friends if you can live with them and pay rent until you find another place. They could provide you with a reference for future housing.

At Coluzzi Real Estate, we care about our community. We go the extra mile to provide you and your family with the information you need.

*The three-day notice does not include weekends or holidays.

1 Millions of renters face eviction – Why today’s housing market is partially to blame, Redfin


About the Author:

Amanda has lived in the Des Moines area since 1999, where she and her husband have bought and sold a handful of homes over the years, including a recent flip. Amanda enjoys writing, obsesses about personal finance and is fond of looking at houses. She loves sharing useful tips and info to make life easier for anyone wanting to buy or sell a home. In her spare time, Amanda cherishes time with her family, volunteers with IHYC, gardens, hikes, and practices TaeKwonDo. You can read more of her writing at whywemoney.com