I evicted my tenants and got my place back today. They owe me some money. I need to send them their deposit statement, and sue them in small claims, but I dont know where they went. Somehow they forgot to leave me a forwarding address - imagine that. What's the easiest way to find them?
Check your lease contract for emergency contacts. That is usually a good start, although you will likely have to hid the truth about who you are if you contact friends/family. I'm guessing you should also have an employer listed on their application . . . that is also another good bet. If that doesn't work and you run out of options, you can just use a skiptracing company to help you out.
If they don't have good jobs, then I would simply forget the whole thing. Write up their deposit letter and put it in their file (since you don't have a forwarding address). Even if you find them, it is nearly impossible to collect from deadbeats.
If they have good jobs that they've had for a long time, call them at work. If you can't get them on the phone, talk to their boss. That is usually an effective technique to get them to call you (or get them fired). If they have a good job, you can have them served at work and garnish their wages. However, a lot of deadbeats will simply quit their job if you garnish their wages.
I usually just move on.
I'm not sure "putting the letter in the file" is good enough, in the unlikely event that they come back at you for non-compliance. In my experience deadbeats who already know that their deductions exceed the balance aren't concerned about being found.
I darn sure would be careful about contacting them at work, particularly the "getting them fired" part. That's a very clear vioation of the Fair Credit Collection Act, which is one of the few federal consumer protection laws that anyone takes seriously.
Forget about suing, and (the correct word is not garnish) but GARNISHEE, 99.9% of all small claims judgements in the US are against people who are "judgement proof".
One of the things that I always did was mail the INSPECTION REPORT within a day or so of move-out, without the check! That keeps them from cashing the check and then coming after you. Of course in this case there wouldn't be a check!
I'm not sure "putting the letter in the file" is good enough, in the unlikely event that they come back at you for non-compliance.
I'm not sure what else you would do with the letter if the tenant didn't leave a forwarding address. In Ohio, the tenant is REQUIRED to leave a forwarding address for the purpose of mailing this letter. Of course, they are also required to leave the keys, which they frequently do not.
Garnish is a verb which means "to garnishee" - look it up.
I play hardball when I get ripped off. If they want to come after me for calling them at work - HAVE AT IT! I've never had a problem with that.
They're collectable - he's had the same job with the state for 20 yrs. I suppose I could send it certified there. Just wonder if that's legal. Don't see why not.
Also - doI send them their deposit statement and a bill and do I have to give them time to pay, or can I just go ahead and start a small claims suit?
Good deal! I'd say that you've got them. Now you need to know the law in your state. I would suggest either talking to an attorney or a successful investor at your local REIA.
In my building (Los Angeles), we collect the amount a tenant owes the day they are scheduled to move out. Primarily to avoid this situation.
However, it sounds like you are on the right track and will be able to collect your money by having them served at work.
You have a couple methods. In addition to what has been suggested - start a conversation with the neighbors. I've yet to have a tenant that hasn't talked too much to a neighbor - especially when I am concerned that I need to get them their "deposit statement". All tenants will hear from the neighbors that they're probably still talking to is "deposit" and think they're getting money. Play it up - golly gee I really owe them this deposit statement and would feel so bad if they didn't get it. That kind of stuff.
Another method I've heard of but can't confirm for finding them is to check utilities records to see where they hook up to next. Good luck.
You may have to mail the statement (w/o check) to the "last known address." They may have done a change of address at the post office. Send it certified, return receipt requested, address correction requested. Either you will get it back undelivered, which will prove your compliance, or you'll get the signed receipt back with their forwarding address on it, I think. I won an eviction and money judgement against a tenant, then ended up paying her since the penalty for not doing it (I was one day late) was double the deposit amount (state of WI). I argued that the judge was miscounting, but she said, no, I'm not. bam.
You should be able to reference your state statutes online regarding the exact requirements for handling security deposits. I wouldn't depend on someone else's advice (except a hired attorney).
Also you can run another background check if you have their DOB and social. The application I have my tenants sign specifically authorizes me to "make any and all inquiries now, and periodically....". At some point their new address will show.
Good luck and keep us posted.
I know the thread is old but going to add this here instead of start a new one.
If you have filed a court case and you are representing yourself and need to find a tenant's change of address with the post office you need to send the postmaster the info. The form you need is 39CFR265-266.rtf from the USPS website.
The form will need to be submitted to the postmaster in the city and state they last resided. To locate the postmaster you will use the Postmaster finder and locate the postmaster with the most recent appointment date.
Do not attempt to misuse this form unless you have a legal right to the information. I don't want them making it anymore difficult for Landlord's to find and collect damages.
send them a letter to the last known address (your rental) and mark Forwarding Service Requested on the envelope. If they have submitted the Change of Address form, USPS will send you their new address