Tenants left town, what's the first step?

Does anyone know of a good collection attoryney in Austin? My tenants skipped town 2 months early and did some water damage to the house.

What’s my first step?


Howdy John:

When you saw the left two months early did they pay the rent for the months they were there. You will not be able to collect for rent that may you in the future. They may be liable for the reletting charge in some leases TAR for example but that would be the max that you could recover. What was the deposit? Will it cover the water damage? Is so you are out of luck there too.

The major problem with hiring an attorney is collecting. You are going to pay them hundreds more to try to find them and get them to show up for court and pay you. That will not happen very often. If you win then you will get a judgement that will show up only in Travis County unless you find them and file it in their new county. If they own nonexempt property somewhere you can attach that real estate and force them to sell it to pay you.

All the tracking and suing costs hundreds and maybe even more. Any good attorney hopefully will tell you this up front.

You can file in small claims yourself but here again would it be worth the costs and trouble based on the low % of collecting.

I have gone to court hundreds of times to get the tenants out and received hundreds of judgements. I have received $200 over the ten years or so for the trouble. I got to where I would not even ask for the money judgement just possession if it was quicker.

The first problem you have is too claim the deposit so they won’t sue you for triple damages. The real problem you have is that you now have to find them to sue them. Most JP courts require personal service for the suit. If you are able to find them and get a judgement against them you need to file an abstract of that so that it will apear on their credit report. You will have a difficult time collecting unless they own other real property besides their home.

You should join a service like national tenant network and make sure you report them. That will help other landlords from leasing to deadbeats. Just getting possession is not enough.

Thank you all for the advice. Yes I agree, it may not be worth the time and money to go after them. They own me 2 months rent ($2800) and their deposit was $1200.

If anyone knows of a inexpensive painters for interiors, please let me know.

Thanks again!