I was wondering if anybody here has dealt with taking their tenant to court before to have debts paid and can give some insight.
I had a tenant who just moved back home to Toledo because he was let go from his job. I let him go without any extra payments because I wanted him gone. Here's the background though. The original lease I printed for him had a typo and I didn't end up getting a new one to him because I had friends who knew him vouge for him and he seemed like a decent guy (I know, that was dumb and I've never done it with anybody else). I also live at the house as well. On NYE of this year, he went and crashed his car into a neighbor's yard down the road and got a DUI. I paid to get him out of jail the next morning and picked him up, drove him around when he needed for the week, and let him hold back on rent for a bit so he could pay off his lawyer fees and get a new car since his was totalled. He kept giving me updates on his repayment plan, and then kept pushing them back because of new unforseen expenses. I was starting to get a bit sketched out and thought about pulling out a lease to get his signature on something but felt it was a precarious situation at this point. He then said he would have the money once his tax lady got his return in and he got that, plus the stimulus checks in it, and that he isn't spending any extra money on things other than the essentials. Then he got the news he'd be losing his job, said he would still be paying off his debts after he moved back to his parent's, but I have still seen nothing from him other than the $500 in bail money. He now owes me $3,200 and I know he lied about being frugal because he has gone out drinking since, went to NY, and even drove home drunk one night just before he moved out. I am going to call him one last time and if I don't hear anything more concrete, was going to call his mother since he's living at home and I have her number from when he got the DUI.
Basically my question is, if I take him to court for the money and don't have the lease contract to show the agreement, would all of the other info, texts, and whatnot be enough to win that case? The agreement was a 1 year term which would have ended at the end of August 2021
Eviction courts pre COVID bear very little resemblance to what is going on today. While pre covid you might have had a chance of winning, collecting sounds like it would have been the hard part. Pre covid the % of tenants that would show up with a lawyer was under 1% for us. With COVID still going on all tenants that make an appearance for their court date has an attorney. I mean it is close to 100%. If they show up w/o one by the time they get to the court room it is likely they will have one. The firsts court date is always adjourned for at least a week if not more so if a tenant doesn’t have one the judge will say get one and adjourn the case for a week.
Because you are looking for money, not possession as you already have that you need to ask yourself not about winning the case, but about collecting the money. Sounds like you might be trying to get blood out of a stone. And even if you get some, area you going to get enough to even cover the cost of filing the case and your attorney? To me, a complete outsider, no, it doesn’t sound like you are. So then what? You hound him for a bit or hire an attorney or send it to a collection agency? X months/years later maybe you get something maybe you don’t.
A lot of time, effort and good money will be spent on this so if I were you I would ask yourself if that is worth it. Or, did you already get what you really want? You said “I let him go w/o any extra payments because I wanted him gone”. In the heat of it, you decided possession (him gone) was more important than money. Sounds like a win to me, sounds like you got what you really wanted.
You also made a mistake in the lease. You don’t say what it is, but you made one and by the sounds of it you know it is a mistake. Because the tenant will have a lawyer if he shows that typo may cause you an issue. To me, this is all the cost of learning a lesson. You paid for an education and chances are you will not make this mistake again so it sounds like money well spent.
If you are in this business long enough you will make mistakes. Personally, I say grow and learn from this mistake. If you win in court even with a typo in the lease and that is hard to say these days knowing the tenant will have a lawyer then what are your odds of collecting? If it is as it sounds and practically 0 take your lumps, learn from them and next time hire a lawyer or property manager or don’t make any typos : )
You are not alone, I have made to many mistakes to count in my 20+ years of doing this. Its part of life.