Make tenant pay infront of judge to train tenant?

8 Replies

Looking for opinions in a situation I have. Tenant has been late the last 3 months and late a total of 4 out of 7 months they have been there.l Last 2 months they were 2 weeks late. This month it was supposed to have been paid on the 3rd, then promised on the 10th when I was over there fishing out a rag and metal from their garbage disposal. He took it all apart and could find anything so he claimed. At that time he also stated he had an unexpected garnishment that left him with 17 dollars on his check. It's my understanding that garnishments can take only up to 50%, so if 17 bucks left him with 50% he's got a bigger problem. Also stated good thing I showed up at that time because he had forgotten I was coming over to fix the garbage disposal(told him 2 days before I'd be there, he picked the day and time) and that they were about to go Christmas shopping. Lol! Now it's the 13th ad he claims it will be paid on Thursday 17th. He gets paid on Thursdays I guess. Clearly rent is not a priority, so do I.. a)file for eviction tomorrow(monday) b) file for eviction and block his access to my tenant portal(tenants required to pay online) so that he has to pay me in front of the judge in an effort to train the tenant. He would have to take a day off work probably, I may have to as well depending on what time the court date is. I feel like it's a waste of $100+ if I file and he pays Thursday, but if I make him pay in front of the judge that cost to file may go a little further by letting the tenant know this isn't a joke.


When you go to court the Judge will give the tenant 10 days to pay or move.  If they don't pay and don't move, then you will have to go back to court and get a Writ of Restitution.  This can take 3 days or weeks.  

So the tenant will not pay you (most likely) the day you go to court.  Plus the tenant can tell the Judge you didn't fix anything, and that is why they haven't paid their rent.  In this case type up an Escrow Form for the tenant to place their money in escrow, (ask the Judge to accept the Escrow) until the repairs are made.  (This makes the tenant put their money where their mouth is)  However, this is the only time that you can force them to pay their rent (although to the court) the day of court. 

Nancy Neville

In most places, blocking the only payment method will cause the judge to train you and not the tenant.

Of course in most places, requiring online payments is not a valid option to start with.

Most of the judges I know consider a landlord's refusal to take a payment as the end of the debt.

Recently we had a judge give 3 weeks instead of 10 days, unbelievable. I'm assuming the tenant will either not pay or show up to court and say here's the money. They could also say there are repairs and they are withholding like you say but they are aware of what I expect if that's the case. Which would be to pay into escrow. 

I haven't had to do that before however. Could you share a sample escrow form that your a speaking of? I was unaware there was a form that I would have to provide, I thought the court would take care of all that as long as I just asked the judge for them to pay into escrow. 

Thanks Nancy!

Hmm that's an interesting point of view Mike. Well here in Michigan, I am unaware of any statute on method of delivery for payments. I refuse partial payments, I don't think that relieves them of their obligation. 

You can stipulate how you receive the payments.  If the tenant constantly pays with a bad check, you would be wise to only accept cash.  (They can cancel money orders, etc.)  If the tenant is constantly late, if you have the proper clause in your lease as you should, you should evict them for chronically paying the rent late.  (If you do this, you should collect as much cash for rent as you can before giving them the 30 day notice for violation of the lease--once you give them the Notice to Quit, you can't take future rent, although you'll be able to ask for per diem rent when filing the compliant.)

If the tenant uses the old trick of claiming damages, ask the judge to escrow the funds for the rent.  The judge will likely give you so much time to make the repairs.  Of course, the tenant may ask for a hearing too--giving them 30-90 days more to live their for free.

The best thing to do, in my humble layman's opinion, is to evict this troublesome tenant as soon as possible.

Originally posted by @Clay Powell

Thanks for the input Clay!

I only accept rent payments online(buildium) so I believe the only way the could submit a bad payment would be to use a credit card and then cancel/dispute the charge. I don't believe its possible when they use debit card or bank transfer, if the funds aren't there it would just overdraft. I could be wrong. I still include $35 charge for bad checks, etc in the lease. Also my lease states 3 late payments in any 6 month period is considered habitually late and eviction proceedings may follow.

Ill have to look into the "peir diem" rent when filing the complaint, im not familiar with that at all. Also its my understanding you can collect any amount after the 7 day notice as long as it isn't the full amount and the notice will still be in effect. With the 30 day notice however, like you say you cant collect at all.

@Chris Martin The online payment provided can still get bad payments.  I have had this happen, and the payment was reversed as there was insufficient funds in the tenants account.  I use, for what its worth.

I would have a discussion with them, telling them that it is obviously not working and ask them if they would consider moving out, leaving the place in a good condition.

You can try eviction, but that will only take more time and effort on your part, and they can terminate the eviction at any time by just paying the rent due, plus late fees.

I doubt you are going to fix this tenant, and the hassle will just build.  It would be better to get them out ASAP and find a better tenant, even if that means getting them out of their lease early.