How to Track Deadbeat Tenant?

16 Replies

Hello all, Looking for a little advice. Recently had tenant move out during eviction process. Of course, the y didn't leave forwarding address and have an outstanding balance. The balance consist of small amount of rent, additional rent (late fees), extra extermination service expense and lawyer and filing fees, totaling almost $2500. More than likely, I'm going to have to take her to small claims court. The Cityfeps programs she was with says they will not over it. Also, I never received call from new landlord for reference so don't know where they moved. So my question is how do you track down deadbeat tenant so I can serve them with papers? Thank you for any help you can provide.

Try whitepages.com or a similar website. 

Also, most jurisdictions allow "service by publication" if the defendant cannot be found or evades personal service. Typically, you do your due diligence, file a petition with the court, and then put a notice in the newspaper stating that the person is being sued. Obviously, though, you will ultimately need to locate some assets/income to collect on any judgment. 

This post is not legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship. Talk to a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction.

If they have a employer you follow them from work, if you have a phone number you run a scam. 

Have some one call pretending she won a $100 gift certificate from a major store in a contest where another customer submitted her name in a "friend" draw.  All the caller needs is to confirm her address to send the certificate to.

(if the tenant asks who submitted her name the caller simply state that do not have that info on their call sheet)

Originally posted by @Thomas S. :

. . . if you have a phone number you run a scam. 

Have some one call pretending she won a $100 gift certificate from a major store in a contest where another customer submitted her name in a "friend" draw.  All the caller needs is to confirm her address to send the certificate to.

(if the tenant asks who submitted her name the caller simply state that do not have that info on their call sheet)

 YIKES! . . . Don't commit fraud. 

Originally posted by @Jacob Rhein :
Originally posted by @Thomas S.:

. . . if you have a phone number you run a scam. 

Have some one call pretending she won a $100 gift certificate from a major store in a contest where another customer submitted her name in a "friend" draw.  All the caller needs is to confirm her address to send the certificate to.

(if the tenant asks who submitted her name the caller simply state that do not have that info on their call sheet)

 YIKES! . . . Don't commit fraud. 

 Not trying to be argumentative...but is that really fraud? I imagine you could argue that you used coercion, but I cant see any actual law broken or damages incurred from it.

Also, to OP, I believe you can do a skip trace on tenant if all else fails. I have never done it, but apparently you can pay a "skip tracer" company to find the person. may be worth looking into.

@Cyntnia Brooks

The best situation is take to small claims, win, and get judgement to garnish her future wages. It is an easy win, but need to serve her the paperwork. That lies the problem, of where tenant moved to. Maybe have Sheriff serve, and they have persons address?

Anything less than above, only option is to go to collections. The collection company just need the lease agreement with tenants signature, any information you have, and amount of collection. This will at least put on her credit report as collection. Also, need to give collection company 1/3 to 1/2 of collection amount.

I just turn over to collection, and looked at tenant moved out without major damage as a win.

Terry

@Cyntnia Brooks   A few ideas:

1) Try Googling the tenant's name to see if an online database (i.e. Whitepages, ZabaSearch, Spokeo, etc) has their new address

2) Check Facebook to see if the tenant lists who their employer is so you can serve them at work

3) Pay a skip tracing company to find and provide you with their address

4) If you ultimately can't find an address to serve them, consider at least turning the debt over to a collections company (i.e. Rent Recovery Service, Debt Reporting Service, etc) who will report it to the credit bureaus so other landlords can be warned 

Good luck.

Thank you all for your wonderful advice. It is much appreciated.
Originally posted by @Thomas S.:

 Not trying to be argumentative...but is that really fraud? I imagine you could argue that you used coercion, but I cant see any actual law broken or damages incurred from it.

I was using "fraud" as a general expression of dishonest conduct. But I think running a phone scam is generally a bad idea even if the "damages" are nominal. My point is that if you make false statements, especially a promise of money, to induce someone to provide information over the phone, you would potentially be exposing yourself to criminal and civil process (if not liability). There are better ways to get this information. 

Originally posted by @Cyntnia Brooks :
Hello all,

Looking for a little advice. Recently had tenant move out during eviction process. Of course, the y didn't leave forwarding address and have an outstanding balance. The balance consist of small amount of rent, additional rent (late fees), extra extermination service expense and lawyer and filing fees, totaling almost $2500. More than likely, I'm going to have to take her to small claims court. The Cityfeps programs she was with says they will not over it. Also, I never received call from new landlord for reference so don't know where they moved. So my question is how do you track down deadbeat tenant so I can serve them with papers?

Thank you for any help you can provide.

 FYI it's typically not worth it to sue someone who doesn't own any assets for such a nominal amount of money.

When you factor in the small % you have at collecting the debt with the cost & effort it will take along with missed opportunities due to time spent on this it's a non starter. I recommend moving on.

I used this trick that I found on someone's blog, which worked perfectly.

I'm not sure if posting a URL is against the rules here, so if you search the web with this phrase:  "How to Find Someone’s Forwarding Mail Address Without Them Knowing" you'll find it.  The blog is called "The Dark Park."

Good luck!

A professional collector will result in the highest probability of collecting something with the least amount of headaches. I had one deadbeat who changed his driver's license and car registration to a PO Box.  My only satisfaction is he is probably in jail right now for writing many bad checks. He was out on bail and did it again. Hopefully the judge will try to break the cycle of ripping off everybody by giving him extended free room and board. 

@Cyntnia Brooks - had a similar case in Queens, NY. Sent invoice to tenant at old address with 'address correction requested.' Letter was returned to us with USPO yellow sticker with new address. Then sent two sets of court papers for small claims, one certified mail, one not. When / if either is returned to you DO NOT open them. Bring them (including invoice with USPO sticker (also unopened)) to the courts date unopened. Judge accepted that the certified came back unclaimed, but non-certified wasn't returned as proof of service. I hope that works for you as well. Good luck. Carol

Agreed. Move on. All you will get is revenge...can’t squeeze blood from a turnip. If he or she owed a “small amount of rent” then I classify them in the “sh*t happens” not the “intentional theft of shelter” tenant. Look at the attorney fees as an education and file yourself next time. If you are renting to city aid tenants, you will need to become reasonably well versed in evictions. Not bad people, just have more “sh*t happens” than the average bear. Do not invest in a lawsuit where the payback is pretty much zilch.

@Jacob Rhein

"I was using "fraud" as a general expression of dishonest conduct"

Being a lawyer your comment is understandable and therefor not a legitimate concern to me. I do not operate my business out of any form of fear and will do what ever I believe is necessary to win. 99.9% of the time when dealing with individuals of this calibre it is not necessary to be concerned with the letter of the law. Do it smart and there is never any proof you have done anything wrong. If you are not smart enough to win by whatever means necessary you end up losing most times. This is why we so often hear landlords state "it is not worth taking them to court." This is of course often the case when landlords rent to those they can not collect from if they default. I only rent to those that have something to lose if I must go after them. That is one of my primary screening requirements. Using tricks to win, fraud or not, is of no concern to me if it  is low risk.

I am not in business to lose, I do whatever I deem necessary to win. I do not always win but it is never from lack of trying. I am not a white collar landlord therefor nobody stiffs me and walks away scot free. 

Skip tracer.  That is your best bet for recovering the funds without losing your mind in the process.  The skip tracer doesn't have any emotion involved and will hunt them down for your money.

Late fees, and legal service fees are not collectable at Court. Only rent is.  I suggest you contact a collection agency. Some will split the collectable amount.

Assuming you file a claim at SC Court after numerous delays, and cancellation they are unlikely to show up at the court so you win then what?

All this is cost of being a landlord. 

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here