necn Investigates: Growing Number of Kids Named on Eviction Notices | NECN
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necn Investigates: Growing Number of Kids Named on Eviction Notices

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Massachusetts does not have a law preventing children's names from appearing on eviction notices for their parents. According to experts, the practice can impact their ability to get money for college or rent apartments in the future. (Published Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016)

    It can be a traumatic event for families. But a growing number of parents are finding their children are being listed on eviction notices.

    Experts say it can impact their ability to get money for college and hinder their ability to rent an apartment in the future.

    Two years ago, it happened to Quincy, Massachusetts, resident Laura Sfiat after her new landlord bought her home she was renting.

    "I was shocked that he would put my child on the eviction," Sfiat told necn Investigates.

    Documents obtained by necn found that her previous landlord placed her 17-year-old, Zack, and her 18-year-old daughter on the eviction notice. Sfiat says at the time, her daughter had already moved out.

    "It's inappropriate and upsetting. They shouldn't be a part of this," said Sfiat. "They're not legally responsible to pay rent. I am the one who takes care of that."

    The practice, while disturbing, is legal. Because there isn't a standard lease agreement in Massachusetts that landlords use, where you put your kids on the lease could make a big difference. If the children are listed as tenants instead of occupants, the kids can be on the hook financially and that could have devastating and long lasting effects.

    "When kids like Zack reach an age where they want to go out and rent an apartment, we're just now starting to see they may have trouble," said Gary Allen, an attorney who represented the Sfiats.

    It could also make it more difficult for children to get student loans since evictions are listed on credit reports for up to seven years.

    According to a spokesperson for Massachusetts courts, last year there were nearly 41,000 eviction cases.

    It's unclear how many of those cases included children being improperly listed on eviction notices. Currently, there is no state or local agency tracking the problem.

    "There should be a way to remove that or correct that," Sfiat told necn Investigates.

    Massachusetts Courts recently did make available a correction form designed to make it easier for court records to be corrected.

    "If we don't come up with a policy that protects minors, then I think we're going to continue to see this situation," Allen said.

    The Sfiats have found a new home. However, Laura worries about what impact the eviction will have on her son.

    "He hasn't even started his adult life working, earning and making a living," said Sfiat said.

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