To sue or not to sue

14 Replies

I am sad to say a tenant has played me with either false documentation and/or lies. Basically she owes me about $3500 in rent and maybe $3000 in late fees. I will keep her deposit. I haven't done inspection yet for damage. She gets a retirement check every month from the government. After I kick her out can I sue her for the rent money and/or late fees, and/or damage if it exceeds the deposit? Has anyone had success with these suits and what is required in my side. I don't want to take a bunch of days off of work.

What happened describe the issue in detail but I can tell you will be the luckiest person if you get any $$

They showed me docs from the IRS showing their refund amount but it never came..... another doc for a lawsuit but that money never came lol. I know I am stupid. So garnishing wages doesn't usually work out to well? she only ever paid me by cash and the receipts were a text from me stating the dollar amount paid in cash with date.

Without knowing all the details of your situation or the laws in your state, I'd say the odds of you getting any money out of this tenant are slim to none. Odds are they have no money to pay you even if you win a judgment. Also, there are laws on garnishing wages that are prohibitive if the tenant is lower income. It's very unlikely worth the time and hassle. Just get rid of the tenant asap and move on.

When you take her to eviction court, you can ask for possession as well as monies owed. Sometimes they award only possession but, if that is the case, they will tell you where to go to sue for damages.

Yes, you can do this. Problem is, it's up to you to collect. As a coach, I teach NEVER let any tenant get behind. You're not helping them. The further behind they get, the more impossible for them to catch up - that's on you.

If you're awarded money, you might put it with a collection agency so they can continue to bug her. But just remember you got back the most important thing, your property, and you learned a valuable lesson for the future.

Thanks for sharing.

I have a policy of taking any tenant that owes me more than a few hundred to small claims court. However I document everything in detail and operate strictly by the book (landlord tenant regulations). You must have served every notice on time and correctly to first gain a eviction or landlord tenant ruling in your favour. Small claims court is the last step of the process.

You must screen tenant to insure not only that they can afford to pay but that you can also collect in court when they do not pay. 

Few landlords will pursue tenants in small claims due to the fact that they did not properly screen to insure they could collect before accepting them as tenants.

@Alexander Chapple   If the tenant legitimately owes you money (there's not enough info provided for us to know if she does), then don't be afraid to take her to small claims court.  It's simple, cheap, and can be a really effective way to collect the money owed to you (provided you know how to collect it).  Personally, I think way too many landlords unnecessarily avoid it.

You can read about an experience I had with taking a tenant to court who owed me about the same as you say you're owed: Taking a tenant to small claims court and the end result here: Finally collected on a small claims judgment against an ex-tenant.

Best of luck to you.

Are you saying you rented to a person based on income tax refunds and lawsuit settlements, and not an income source? How are the late fees $3,000?

I use a collection agency. They will file on them and they get a huge cut of what they collect. They are successful at times.especially if thy go to purchase a home or trying to clear up the credit.

Originally posted by @Robert Hudson :

$3000 is a lot in late fees.

 That's what I was thinking too. How does one rack up as much in late fees as in rent? How are your late fees structured?

no they have been renting for a while, it wasn't based on their income tax haha. It is $55 late after the 5th and 5 dollars a day after that. With any month not paid in full results in additive late fees. So she has made it to about $500 per month in late fees.