Suing for dollars

Sep 22 2012

If you are landlording, sooner or later you will be faced with the task of removing a tenant or asking how do you get a tenant out.  Among the top 3 reasons for suing or removing a tenant is upaid rent.

For many landlords, when the rent is not paid, they will simply try to get the rent from the individual by making phone calls to them or sending letters.  What good does that do when the tenant not paying the rent to begin with or the tenant is versed in landlord's efforts at removing a tenant?  Others will consider a lawsuit but think the judgment is uncollectible and a waste of resources (time and cash.)  This may have been true some time ago but in the age of the internet and the increased flow of information, it’s no longer the case for a unit that drops in the "rent not paid" category.

The first step to take in getting your cash AND removing a tenant is to file the lawsuit per your court's website.  In Indiana where my rentals are located it’s as easy as mailing in payment and the necessary forms plus a stamped envelope.   It is costly but you can include that cost in your lawsuit as well.  The court's website even has helpful tips for a tenant not paying rent and a handy guide on "How do you get a tenant out."  Either way, while the trail is still warm (assuming the tenant has fled) or as soon as the rent stops, file your lawsuit quickly, sending the summons to the last known address which is your rental.  However your laws are do as required as to how to sue renters and follow all guidelines on removing a tenant.

If you are suing a migratory or predatory renter, the summons they will receive means nothing and chances are they will not show up to court, giving you a default renter judgment and a means to act for rent not paid to you  Others who are genuinely concerned about their credit will most likely contact you to inquire about the suit or try to settle with you to avoid having a tenant judgment.  Regardless, the important step is to get the judgment.  Some people who "grow up" later in life and want to purchase a home or some other large item on credit may not be able to in the future and may contact you years later to settle their debt and have the tenant judgment removed.

If you get the renter judgment the next step to collecting or removing a tenant is to make sure it is forwarded to the defendant, usually by sending a copy to the last known address.  Sometimes this alone may stir a renter to action to have the tenant judgment expunged.   It’s also sometimes required by courts before you proceed to the next step which is either collecting or eviction.

I will expand on the techniques I’ve used in another article demonstrating how easy it is to track down your targets and garnish their wages without having to set foot into a court room except for a few times.  Later I will explain how easy it really is to seize real assets from those that owe you. 

However the most important lesson to learn about suing renters is to get good information from them to begin with including full names, social security numbers, date-of-birth, and driver’s licenses.  With this information you can easily find them and see that asking "how do you get a tenant out" is pretty simple.  Another important point is to get this information from all persons who will reside in your residence, including them on the lease.  The more targets you have to aim at, the better you will be in successfully suing, removing a tenant, and collecting from them and building your personal knowledge base of how to sue a tenant when the rent not paid or the tenant not paying rent.

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