Recouping unpaid rent and repair costs from a tenant that's long gone

So I’ve had my first eviction and boy is it fun. Tenant did not pay entire last month’s rent and let the deposit cover it (a scenario that entitles me, according to Texas property code, to charge her 3x the unpaid rent). That’s great and all, but how do I enforce it? I would have probably let it go had she not destroyed our property. Any suggestions?

In MS, the statute of limitations for me being able to sue someone for a situation like yours is three years…that is if I can find them. Don’t expect anyone to help you locate them. The police won’t help. The water department can’t verify where the deadbeats now have water service for “privacy reasons.” While walking out of Wal-Mart without paying for something is against the law and will get the police involved, sadly there’s little help for you Mr. Landlord.
If you can find her, you can get her served. She’ll probably pop up on an internet search a few months down the road because most people like that aren’t smart enough to have mail diverted away from their house. OK. So you get her to court (or she doesn’t show and you win a default judgment) and win. Now you have to collect. People like this aren’t going to pay voluntarily. Here, I can pay $65 and file for an execution against their vehicle. Then you have to find their vehicle so it can be towed. Then it gets put up for sale at the Sheriff’s sale. The one time I actually got all of this to work out, the guy ended up paying me off in full to avoid his car getting sold. The $2050 wad of money he handed me was worth way more than his 1993 Nissan Maxima. I was just glad to get my money.
I’m a huge a__hole when someone steals from me, but my advice to you is just get that place back in rentable shape and get it filled. Save all your repair receipts and take plenty of pictures just in case. If this all works out later where you can get the money from her fine, but the best thing you can do is get that vacancy filled.

Well she drives a nice Cadillac (which makes this all the more annoying) so I may look into that option…

Yeah, it was pretty entertaining to watch the cops call the towing company and have it hauled away. The guy kept saying he was going to pay, but the cops said the car was going bye bye unless he had the money at that moment… :biggrin

I Texas you can’t get their car. What you can do is sue them in small claims court. If they left forwarding address serve them there if they did not serve them at their last known address (your rent house) and they won’t show up to court and you will win by default. If they ever try to do something that is worthwhile like buy a house or rent from a reputable land lord they will be required to find you and pay you. That is what makes Texas so great is that if it is you or somebody that you owe you really can’t get money from them.

ethomson are there a reason you did not put the type of auto with license plate number on the application. Now sense you got burnt turn it over to a collection agency and they find her. What part of Texas?

Lake Conroe (Houston area). I did find out about 1 protected vehicle per person in Texas. The vehicle showed up after her lease application. Is it worth the couple hundred for the lien against property she will never own and to hurt credit she will never need and a job hunt she will never be on

I was just going to say to let it go and then I noticed that she did damage to the property. No suggestions but les us know how it turns out.

“Destroyed” may have been a bit dramatic. She hung about 100 pictures with decking nails, left a few holes in the sheetrock trying to remove those nails, left all of the crap she didn’t want, never cleaned the entire time she lived there, drilled into the hardiplank to hang bike racks… just a low-class renter. Taught me to screen tenants better, I guess. I have been working on getting it rent ready so have not pursued anything yet. Wish I could have found her new home so I could deliver the rest of her stuff to her new front yard.

You’re being way too nice by trying to deliver their junk. My preferred method of attack is to take everything to curb side. If there’s anything good I can sell/scrap, I do that. Otherwise, neighbors and passers-by will pilfer thru the junk and make the trash guy’s job a little easier.
Tenant screening is vitally important as we know, but it is never foolproof. Some will slip thru. Some people will not have any type of record, but may turn into non-model tenants anyway. So we do the best we can and get the place ready for the next person. Don’t beat yourself up over things. Hanging pictures with extremely large nails doesn’t show up on screening anyway.

You want to be careful about profiting from the stuff left behind. If the deadbeat tenant comes back and asks for their stuff make sure they don’t think (or can prove) you have taken their stuff or sold it for profit unless you execute a lien against it and it is sold. You can’t just take their stuff unless you can prove it was abandoned. I just put it on the curb.

Thanks for the info. I do take pictures to use in court in the event I can actually find them and sue them so hopefully that would be sufficient.

make sure you file against her, so the next person that goes to rent to her/him, if they do proper screening, will realize they are a problem tenant.

That’s a good point Andy and that’s why I file against someone anyway so it will show up in their record. The $65 I spend for that will at least give someone else info about the person later. It seems like many people around here don’t run background checks, but at least it will help the people who do.