Posted by JHyre in Ohio on January 14, 1999 at 10:25:24:
First question- is the tenant a total deadbeat? If he has nothing to take, attempting to collect is a waste of time & money. Basically, if you don’t know the law (garnishment, liens, attachment and federal “fair collection” acts, to name a few), you’ll probably have to pay an attorney or collection company. If the amount owed is small, the cost of collection may be greater than the amount collected. While the collection laws usually allow recovery of collection costs, we are back to the “can’t squeeze blood from a turnip” issue. I doubt that it is worth your time to learn the relevant laws to collect this amount. If you are a large landlord and get stiffed alot, it may be worthwhile. Be careful- as JP & Joe Kaiser pointed out here recently, collection law is RIFE with traps.
If the amount is large enough, some attorneys or collection companies will collect on contingency. Check out the tenant’s credit report (I assume that you already obtained as part of pre-screening when the guy moved in) & see where this guy works, bank accounts, assets, etc. You should quickly determine whether this tunrip has any blood.
I think- but am not sure- that in CA you may take the deadbeat’s security deposit from a future landlord via garnishment. It would not get you on the landlord’s X-mas list, but you might get something for the hassle of finding the guy and going through the garnishment hoops. Probably not worth the effort…