Bill Gray – The Landlord Doctor

Insider Advice on Collecting Tenant Debt and Screening Tenants

Posts Tagged ‘letter’

Tough Economy Makes Tenant Debt Tough, but Not Impossible, to Collect

Posted by Bill Gray on December 28, 2009

[tweetmeme source=”your_twitter_name” only_single=false downturn in the economy has caused many landlords to lower their credit requirements for new tenants.  Of course, lowering credit requirements increases financial risk. Renting to a tenant with little or poor credit increases the likelihood that the tenant will at some point leave owing the landlord money.

This change in rental criteria is understandable, considering the need to keep all units rented.  But know that when you lower your standards and in turn incur debt, this debt will be tougher to collect than if you had rented to a tenant with good or great credit.  If you use a collection agency to collect the debt, you should also lower your expectations about how much you feel they should collect.

Collection agencies are reporting that they are receiving many more files than two years ago.  The average amount of debt in these files has also increased.  Relaxed rental standards, coupled with the high unemployment rate, have put collection agencies in a tough spot.

The American Collectors Association reports that the collection industry debt recovery rate is down 30-40% over last year.  Angi Pusateri, National Sales Manager for RentDebt Automated Collections, confirmed that her company is experiencing a similar decline in debt recovery.  However, RentDebt Automated is weathering the storm well and has added employees in the last year at their offices, which are located in Nashville, Tennessee and Dallas, Texas.

Jeff Cronrod, the President of Rent Recovery Service, a national collection agency specializing in the collection of tenant debt, estimates that nearly 40% of the debtors his company is trying to collect from are unemployed.  “It is not that these debtors do not care about the debt or their credit. They simply have no means to pay the bill,” Cronrod explained.

Saul Wertzer, President of Rent Recover Solutions in Atlanta, Georgia (not to be confused with Cronrod’s Rent Recovery Service), told me that his company has also seen an increase, not only in the number of collection files, but also an increase in the average amount of each file.  I have heard this from every company I have spoken with, in every corner of the country.  Wertzer went on to say that it is important for landlords and property managers to think long-term about debt they are owed by previous tenants.  Over time a good percentage of tenant debt is collectible.

If your collection agency has served you well in the past, stick with them, even though recent recoveries may have dropped.  Trust me, every agency is experiencing a tough time collecting debt.  Don’t jump ship and hire another agency, because eventually the economy will improve and many of these tenants who owe previous landlords will get back on their feet.  When they do, they will work to clean up their credit and pay their debt. But don’t wait until then to do something about it.  Now is the time to make sure the debt you are owed is reported to all three major credit bureaus. Whether your collection agency reports the debt or you report it via an automated service, make sure every dollar you are owed is reported.

Doing so will greatly increase the odds that you will get paid the debt your previous tenant owes you.

Email me your tenant screening and tenant debt questions.

Bill Gray

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Tenant Debt & Screening Forum



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An Organized Landlord Has Less Tenant Debt and More Profit

Posted by Bill Gray on August 22, 2009

[tweetmeme source=”your_twitter_name” only_single=false organized landlord is a more profitable landlord.  I have reviewed many thousands of tenant debtor files, and one thing is certain; by looking at a tenant file after the tenant moves out, I can usually tell you fairly accurately how the property is being managed.  A well-organized landlord who documents everything has less tenant debt, and, as result enjoys more profit.

Organize your files logically and consistently.  At least half of the files I review are little more than a pile of unorganized papers thrown into a file folder; and often very important documents are missing

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Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin Tradeshow and Educational Seminar

Posted by Bill Gray on August 21, 2009

I am scheduled to speak with members of the Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin September 16th.  I look forward to meeting members and talking with them about how to collect their tenant debt. 

Contact: Tim Ballering “10th Annual Landlord Tradeshow & Educational Seminar” for Apartment Association of Southeastern WI on Meetup
Serb Hall, Milwaukee, WI on Wed Sep 16, 12:00 AM

Posted in Credit Bureau Reporting, Landlord Tenant, Tenant Debt Collections | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

When a Tenant is Behind in Rent, When Should You Call it Quits?

Posted by Bill Gray on August 17, 2009

[tweetmeme source=”your_twitter_name” only_single=false I reviewed over eighty tenant debt accounts and noted that the average balance due is significantly higher than a year ago. With theemptypockets exception of the most expensive areas (such as California, New York City, and the northeast), the average amount of tenant debt is normally between $2500 and $3000.

I separated all accounts over $4000 and took a hard look at them to determine why there were so many high balances.  The answer was that landlords allowed tenants to go month after month paying little or no rent, before they were eventually evicted or the tenant skipped out. This is obviously a sign of the times.

I assume landlords are allowing tenants to live in their units for three to four months without paying rent for one of two reasons:

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Posted in Collection Agencies, Credit Bureau Reporting, Evicted, Landlord Tenant, Tenant Debt Collections | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Landlords Should Consider Settling Tenant Debt

Posted by Bill Gray on August 11, 2009

[tweetmeme source=”your_twitter_name” only_single=false of my most uncomfortable moments have come when talking to landlords about considering settlement offers.  Often, the landlord is somoney4 emotional about the debt he or she is owed that settling is not an option.

After 12 years of reviewing tenant debt accounts, I can tell you with certainty that landlords who seriously consider settlement offers recover much more money than landlords who don’t.

If a previous tenant makes a settlement offer, he or she is looking to resolve the debt for some reason right now.  Maybe he is trying to rent another place to live, or trying to obtain a mortgage or another loan. For whatever reason, he is motivated to pay you.  If you ignore the offer, he may find another way to rent or get a mortgage or loan without paying you.  This may be your only opportunity to collect even part of what you are owed.

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Posted in Collection Agencies, Credit Bureau Reporting, Evicted, Landlord Tenant, Tenant Debt Collections | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

My Previous Tenants Were Roommates – Who Owes Me the Money?

Posted by Bill Gray on August 6, 2009

[tweetmeme source=”your_twitter_name” only_single=false
In most cases they both owe you.  First of all, each individual over the age of 18 should have signed the lease.  If this is not your policy, change your policy today.  There are several important reasons for requiring all adults to sign the lease, but for this article we are speaking simply to who owes you money.

Assuming your previous tenants moved more than 30 days ago, you should now report each of them to all three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.  My article, “Tenant Moved Out – Left You Holding the Bag” explains how to determine how much, if anything, you are owed.

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How do I Hire a Collection Agency to Collect my Tenant Debt?

Posted by Bill Gray on July 28, 2009

[tweetmeme source=”your_twitter_name” only_single=false my tenant debt immediately to a collection agency is not my first preference.  Myself, I would first report the debt to Experian, Equifaxmakingdecisions and TransUnion, and let the ding on the debtor’s credit report work a few months before I gave it to an agency that will charge me a hefty commission.

Collecting tenant debt is much different than collecting other debts, such as credit card debt.  A collection agency represents you and your business, and you could be taken to court should they violate the law.  And, just as important as

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Posted in Collection Agencies, Credit Bureau Reporting, Evicted, Tenant Debt Collections | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Evicted Tenants – Will they ever pay you?

Posted by Bill Gray on June 20, 2009

[tweetmeme source=”your_twitter_name” only_single=false you certain your old tenant won’t pay his or her bill?  Landlords tell me several times a week there is no way their previous tenant will ever pay what they owe.  As I said in a previous post, if you have a crystal ball that tells you he won’t pay you what he owes, why didn’t you use that magical crystal ball before he became a tenant?

The truth is nobody knows whether the balance will be paid or not. The one way you can make sure not to get paid is by putting his file in the drawer and leaving it there.

Think about it.  Your tenant moved out with the knowledge that you were owed money. The renter might not have known how much, but most likely understood it was some amount.  After moving, the former tenant either hoped you would not go after the debt, or did not think you could.

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Tenant is Long Gone – But the Debt was Never Paid

Posted by Bill Gray on June 15, 2009

[tweetmeme source=”your_twitter_name” only_single=false, you gave your old tenant the opportunity to do the right thing and pay his debt; he gave you the salute and moved along without paying you a penny. He or she has now been gone over thirty days.  What do you do now?

Doing nothing is not an option!  In fact, doing nothing is a bad business decision.  It is not fair to you, your business or your other tenants.  Tryforrent skipping a credit card payment and see what happens.  They will be on you like white on rice.  Those who don’t pay their bills raise the prices for the rest of us that do pay ours.  Rent is no different.

In my previous post, I explained the process of determining how much you are owed, and notifying the debtor.  I recommended giving him 30 days to respond.  If

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Posted in Collection Agencies, Credit Bureau Reporting, Evicted, Tenant Debt Collections | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Tenant Moved Out – Left You Holding the Bag

Posted by Bill Gray on May 15, 2009

[tweetmeme source=”your_twitter_name” only_single=false your tenant lied and took advantage of you.  He may have skipped out on the lease or you may have evicted him.  In either case, he damaged your rental and cost you money!  What do you do now?

1.  First, set your emotions aside and spend some time organizing your ex-tenant’s file.  Whether you own one unit or one thousand, or whether you manage your rentals full-time or part-time, you are running a business.  Any successful business keeps well organized, complete records.

2.  Keep copies of all receipts required to repair the unit, spent on legal fees, unpaid rent, etc.  Complete a move-out inspection checklist,moving preferably with the tenant if possible.  Both of you sign the document.  The move-out inspection will help you document the condition of your unit and the debt he owes you.  If you are not completing move-in inspection checklists now, begin doing so with your next move-in. This important step is often left out because “I didn’t have time”.  Take the time.  There is no excuse for not having a complete move-in inspection

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