collecting money from previous tenant

I had a tenant write me a hot check, then break her lease and move out. :F Is small claims court my only option? Can I place a lien on her through the county courthouse? If so, how do I go about doing this? I have no idea what her new address is. I only have a cell phone number and an email address as contact info for her and of course she doesn’t return calls or emails. If small claims court is the best option, what sort of process do I need to follow to get this going? I guess I’ve been fortunate that in the three years I’ve been a landlord, this is the first time I’ve had a tenant break a lease or write a hot check.

Any and all info is greatly appreciated.


The county will add her to the list of bad check writers and could possibly collect it some day or put her in jail if they arrest her for something else or happen to stop her for jwalking.

Once you get a judgement from the JP office court you can have it abstracted at the courthouse and it will become a lien on any real estate she buys or owns in that county. The clerks office will tell you the steps.

To file in small claims it cost $62 here in Travis County. You have to send a certified letter demanding payment and giving 10 days to pay. After that you go to JP where the property is located, pay the $$$ and file the papers, basically filling out a form and giving a copy of the demand letter. I believe once the sheriff or constable services her with the notice she has 10 days to respond. After that time a hearing will be set so you can prove your case. You can call Judge Judy too but I would not want to go on TV. Maybe Joe Brown or LarryJoe on Texas Justice.

Happy Holidays and Thank you,

Ted P. Stokely Jr
11505 Sw Oaks
Austin, Texas 78737

512-301-9171 home
512-587-6177 mobile

I might have missed it but I did not see which state you are in. Each state has different ways to collect and get a judgment on someone. For instance, in Texas you can’t garnish wages, or anything on someone that owes you money. It is a real pain. I live in Michigan were we can garnish state income tax refunds, bank accounts and wages. But on the NSF check - call your local police department or court - ask what the recourse is in your area. For instance, in my county - they have a new program to assist people in this situation - with a bounced check. It is a felony over a certain amount and they will assist you with collecting. You might not need to get a judgement, but if you do - find out those procedures - and use a company to locate this person. You can find a skip tracer (probably one advertising on this site) for about $10. they can find about anyone - anywhere. I hope this helps.