I recently had a tenant leave my property (prior to having to go through the eviction process) who was multiple months behind in rent, had late fees, and damages to the unit documented and itemized.
Prior to turning over the keys I had the tenant sign an agreement to pay using a "payment form" from the MN Multihousing Association that is approved by the Mn State Attorney General. This set up a payment plan system for the tenant of a specific amount due over the next few months and noted the above mentioned itemized items. The tenant signed the agreement form and First payment was due August 1st.
As of today I have received no payment and no contact from the tenant. Additionally, due to the tenant's financial situation he was moving in with a friend and did not provide a forwarding address. He is also not working at the last restaurant he was employed while renting the unit. I did take a picture of the tenant's Government issued ID card as he had lost his Driver's license due to DWI and have his SS#.
How should I proceed with finding this tenant and recovering the money owed?
I would either contact an attorney or a collections agency. Go get em!!
File a Summons and Complaint in the court for non payment based on the form they signed. (Since they defaulted, the rent is late and all monies owed is still owed and needs to be filed as an eviction.
A court date will be set and most likely a Judgment awarded. It is then that you can turn it over to a collection agency or put a lien on their drivers license or other assets.
I would not expect to get the owed money back, but turning it into collections is a very easy step that will hit their credit report.
More on and work on better tenant screening. Every time I come across a bad tenant I go back to their application to see what clues I missed and what I can do to prevent occurrence.
Lesson learned. No matter what you do you are not going to see that money. It mostly comes down to how much effort you want to put into punishing the tenant. Liens, credit reports and judgments don't mean anything to someone who has no money, drivers license, job or house.
What's pursuing it going to cost you in time, stress, fees and court costs? Move forward and vet tenants better and don't let them fall "multiple months" behind.
I would assume that you have the pedigree information on the tenant. You can most likely get a judgement from the court proceeding and place that with a collection agency. It may take some time, but you should be able to eventually collect most of your money. If it is an obscene amount of money, consider hiring a PI to track the dead beat down so that you can have him/her served officially and get everything completely locked down. The other options are obviously still available to you if this person is definitively tracked down. More often than not though, the owed money is not a nominal amount, but is not great enough to engage such a costly endeavor. By the time you jump through all of the hoops, you could essentially spend close to the amount of what is already owed to you and it becomes a futile effort at that point.