I had a nightmare tenant who owes back rent and damages of around $6,500. No forwarding address and the initial letter with a detailed bill bounced back (no post office forwarding). Best practices for going after this without it turning into a time and/or money vortex?
I assume the $6,500 is what's owed after you kept the security deposit? You'd need to look into your local legal options. Perhaps you can hire a PI to locate him and then take him to court and/or look into the option of garnishing his wages. A local attorney might know best how to try and recoup some money. Any option will likely take at least a little bit of time/effort/money, but I doubt it should cost that much.
Jeremy. Yikes, never fun to discover. As a landlord attorney in MN, I can only offer general non-Washington advice. It may be a total loss and not worth your time. Even if you prevail in conciliation court (you may have ability to notice via publication and last known address in WA), you may only have a paper judgment (no ability to garnish wages, etc.). If the former tenant worked prior to your lease and during, and you believe is still in WA, those facts increase your chances of collecting on a judgment. There may be WA state statutes that allow further penalties for purposeful tenant damage (willful, grossly negligent). Big picture, I believe this may be a tough pill to swallow--and you move on. Next go around (you or your property manager)--inspect property more often, improved background check/calls, increase security deposit for risks, pull the trigger earlier on material breach of lease (material damage to property), etc. A judgement in conciliation can be had for a few hundred and a few hours total (without an attorney). I always recommend--
"Is it good money (cost to litigate) after bad (no job, no money) or good money after good (bank account, car, job, live in state)." Good luck to you!
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