How do I get reimbursed for past rent from an evicted tenant?

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How do I get reimbursed for past rent from an evicted tenant?

My brother and I own a duplex in WA state and had a tenant living in our property, with unpaid rent since January. Our property management company went through the eviction process with him and we were awarded 5 months back rent but with no ability to actually collect this from the tenant. He has since been forceable removed by the sheriff and we would like to proceed with sending him to a debt collector or other means to begin getting our 5 months back rent. How can we proceed with this?

Asked on June 20, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Your options are:
1) Sue him yourself for the money, then after you win, go through the collections process (e.g. trying to garnish wages) if he doesn't pay voluntarily.
2) Find a debt collector or attorney specializing in debt collection who will take this case for a percentage (typically 25% to one-third) of what, if anything, they collect: you'll get less money even if they succeed, but may get something at no risk (they are only paid if they win).
3) Possilble find someone who will buy the debt from you for a small percentage (e.g. 20 -25% usually) from you. You will get some money upfront and guaranteed, they then make their money if they can collect more than that from the former tenant.
You can "Google" for collections agencies, debt collectors, or someone who buys debt to get names to contact, if you elect to not sue yourself.
That said, it's likely better to let this go. If he did not pay for 6 months either he has no money (so you can't collect from him) or he is a "professional deadbeat" who does this alot and knows how to hide his money and assets from collection. I practice landlord-tenant law in NJ and in 90%+ of cases, it's not worth trying to pursue the evicted tenant for payment.


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