How to recover damages from my last tenant

2 Replies

My last tenant trashed the house and left me with $3000 in damages (after deducting $1000 deposit, I am on hook for $2000). I am running out of ideas to recover this $2000 from her

a) Retaining a lawyer starts from $3500, so it is ruled out

b) I am out of state landlord, so I dont know if it is practical to approach small/petty claims court. 

c) Some one tells me I can directly go to collections, but I donot know where it takes me to.

At the least, I want this issue to appear in her rental records, credit records (and possibly court records), so that she would not go scott-free

What are my options in a) trying to recover the damages and b) reporting the tenant  to credit/rental/etc bureaus. 

If you use the court system, and you get a judgment, then you can garnish wages, levy bank statements, and a judgment will keep them from being able to get a mortgage, etc.  

If you sue her in small claims court, you'll have to travel there and get accommodations.  You'll have court costs (usually $100 or less), which you can include in the judgment at least (just your court fees, not your traveling expenses).

If that doesn't sound worth it, I'd hire one of the landlord collection agencies.  Without a decision by a judge, the tenant can always fight the amount - but she'll have to sue you to do it, which she probably can't afford to do.

Of course, she can always file bankruptcy, which would even wipe out a judgment.

I think the easiest thing for you to do, is hire a landlord collection agency.  You won't get your full $2,000 back, but you wouldn't have anyway, if you had to travel.  At least they will provide a consequence and something on her credit report.  And it won't cost you anything out of pocket, and you might even get something if they ever collect.  

Something else to consider with going the court route, is that if she appeals, you would have to go back again.

Best you are probably going to do is what @Sue K. suggested.  Find the nastiest collection agency you can find and let them loose on her.  You are probably never going to see a cent out of her but at least you can trash her credit for seven years.  

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