Deadbeat tenants who owe you money are, unfortunately, sometimes a fact of life when you own rental property. While it can be challenging to track down those tenants, there are some steps you can take to chase down tenants and collect on judgments you win against tenants who owe money.
The first step is to always make sure you collect a rental application on all prospective tenants before you rent one of your properties. By collecting a rental application, you can run a background and credit check on applicants, using a service like VerticalRent. This step can help you avoid deadbeat tenants, and in the event that a tenant skips out while owing you money, you will have a wealth of information for tracking them down. Some of the information found on a rental application is emergency contacts, personal references, employment information, license plate number, etc.
It’s also a good idea to make use of the United States post office in your search for a tenant who owes you money. Use the last known address provided by the tenant. This will likely be the address of your rental property, but go ahead and send it to that address, making sure you include Address Service Requested on the letter. This will ensure that it is forwarded to the tenant’s new address. Furthermore, the post office will notify you of the new address. While this strategy will only work if your tenant has left a forwarding address, it is worth a shot. In the event that you are notified of a new address, sent your ex-tenant a certified letter along with a copy of the judgment demanding payment.
You might also be surprised at how much information you can find online. People locators, such as Intelius, Piple, and BeenVerified, can provide a wealth of information on your former tenants. Keep in mind that some services are more reputable and accurate than others, but it’s definitely worth trying.
Another option would be to hire a service that specializes in finding tenants who skip out on payments. Judgement recovery agencies are experts at tracking people down. While you will have to pay the agency, this is still better than recovering nothing. Make sure you choose a service that will only charge you if they actually collect from the tenant. Most such services charge a percentage of the amount of money they recover on your behalf. There are no guarantees that this will work, either. Some people are quite adept at hiding and others simply have no assets to recover.
Whatever you do, don’t give up. You deserve all of the money owed to you, and it’s important to the long-term health of your business to ensure that you collect. Furthermore, if you are persistent in pursuing an ex-tenant who owes money, you will make it that much more difficult for them to skip out on someone else in the future.