What is our best recourse for a tenant that just vacates a rental with no notice? How do we file a report so that this behavior shows up on any tenant searches when he moves again?
I would apply their deposit to the unpaid rent and any damages or cleanup charges.
I take them to small claims court.
Do your due diligence to let them know that they owe you money, then turn it into collections. This is low work on your part and will put it on their credit report for prospective new landlords to see.
@Kasie Smith we need more information. Did they leave it damaged? Did they leave owing a balance for rent, utilities, or other charges? Is there a security deposit? Will the deposit cover the unpaid balances, cleaning, and repairs? We also don't know what your state law allows.
For me, I immediately document the condition with pictures and/or video. I start advertising the unit for rent and getting it cleaned up. If utilities are still in the tenant's name, leave them so you don't incur the charges. But make sure they will revert to you if the tenant's account is shut down for lack of payment.
I continue charging the previous tenant for rent until the new tenant takes over. Then I add up all the costs (rent, utilities, cleaning, repairs, etc.) and apply the security deposit. If there is an unpaid balance, I send it to collections where it will probably sit on their credit report for the next seven years while I don't collect a dime. At least it might stop them from cheating someone else down the road.
Taking them to small claims is pretty useless. You can easily win a judgment but then it's almost impossible to get the money. A collection agency will take the case and try to collect even without a court judgment.
Look up your local tenant laws to see what the time period is for tenants who abandon a property. If not, you may have no recourse if they choose to come back or even break in. In some states, you may still have to go through an eviction process before you can legally take procession. Good luck!
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