Bill Gray – The Landlord Doctor

Insider Advice on Collecting Tenant Debt and Screening Tenants

Posts Tagged ‘letters’

SUING AN EX-TENANT FOR PAST DUE RENT: What Factors To Consider

Posted by Bill Gray on September 14, 2009

[tweetmeme source=”your_twitter_name” only_single=false http://www.URL.com%5DTristan R. Pettit, Attorney at Law, Milwaukee WI –       Tristan’s Landlord – Tenant Law Blog www.petriestocking.com/blog/

Your tenant has already vacated your rental unit – so there is no need to file an eviction action — but they left owing you money.  Is it worth your time and effort to sue them in order to obtain a money judgment?  This is probably the third most frequently asked question that I receive when talking to landlords (the first two most asked questions in case you are curious are (1) which notice do I use when? and (2) how do I evict my tenant?).

There is not a simple answer to this question.  It depends . . . on many things.  Many variables need to be taken into consideration before deciding to spend the time and effort to sue an ex-tenant.  Let’s consider what some of those variables are.

1.     How much money does the tenant owe you?

Is the amount that is owed to you worth the time, energy, and cost to attempt to collect it?  You will need to purchase a small claims summons which will cost you approximately $100.  You will need to personally serve the ex-tenant with the assistance of the Sheriff or a private process server — typical cost between $35-$100.  If you are representing yourself you will spend time away from work and therefore lose some wages.  If you opt to hire a lawyer to represent you, you need to consider how much you will have to pay the lawyer.

There is no magic dollar amount that makes suing a tenant worth it or not worth it.  The “breaking point” as I like to call it, will be different for different people. Read the rest of this entry »

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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 http://www.URL.com%5DMessyFilesAn 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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Posted in Evicted, Landlord Tenant, Tenant Debt Collections | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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 http://www.URL.com%5DToday 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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Landlords Should Consider Settling Tenant Debt

Posted by Bill Gray on August 11, 2009

[tweetmeme source=”your_twitter_name” only_single=false http://www.URL.com%5DSome 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 http://www.URL.com%5D
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 http://www.URL.com%5DHanding 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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Evicted Tenants – Will they ever pay you?

Posted by Bill Gray on June 20, 2009

[tweetmeme source=”your_twitter_name” only_single=false http://www.URL.com%5Dswami-1Are 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 http://www.URL.com%5DSo, 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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Tenant Moved Out – Left You Holding the Bag

Posted by Bill Gray on May 15, 2009

[tweetmeme source=”your_twitter_name” only_single=false http://www.URL.com%5DPerhaps 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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