Renting to Ace Ventura.
July 5, 2012 4:45 PM   Subscribe

How do i collect from (soon to be former) tenants in Texas who do not dispute that or how much they owe?

I have tenants who owe me about three months rent. The time has passed to evict them to any advantage since their lease is up at the end of this month.

Will small claims do anything to help even though they don't deny they owe me the money? What about a collections agency? Basically, how do I (or is it worth it to) recover this money?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (5 answers total)
You can sue, in Justice of the Peace court or otherwise, and, should you win, you will be able to file a judgment against the people who owe you money. This will become a matter of public record and can do things like bring a mortgage application to a screeching halt, prevent them from transferring real property without paying you, and show up in a tenant screen done by many landlords.

In Texas, most personal assets are exempt from garnishment or seizure for payment of debts. All you can really do, if they dig in their heels, is make getting housing marginally more annoying going forward.
posted by fireoyster at 6:10 PM on July 5, 2012

Small claims is your only option. Usually you can get your court costs back as part of the judgement too. It will cost about $300 to file a small claims case. And probably take a full day to navigate the court house to get all the correct papers and such.

Getting a judgement does not mean you will collect anything. You can sell judgements to credit agencies. A judgement against them will mess up their credit for a long time.

The judge might offer mediation. If they agree to it, it might drag the process out. Through mediation, they could cause you to have to spend another two or three days at the court house, without them ever intending to pay. Come back one day for mediation, tehn come back a month later when they miss their first payment. Everything you do at the court house, especially if you have never done it before, takes a day.
posted by Flood at 6:31 PM on July 5, 2012

I think it's important to figure out why they aren't paying. If they aren't paying because of financial hardship, maybe you can setup a payment plan for them, and if they don't make their payments you take them to court. If they just aren't paying because they are bad people, than just take them to court right away.

It would be a shame to ruin the credit of people who want to pay you but are unable to for the moment, because if they are in that situation than you aren't going to get any money from them anyway. Better to let them pay you off as they are able.
posted by markblasco at 8:11 PM on July 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Are they young? Any chance you can call their parents? I know this sounds silly, but it's worked for me in the past.

If not, ask them if they are willing to accept the rent as a loan. They can make payments with a reasonable amount of interest attached.
posted by xammerboy at 11:31 PM on July 5, 2012

File a case in small claims court. Then call all the court shows you can, starting with People's Court, Judge Judy and work you way down the food chain. If you get on one of the shows and you win, they'll pay you and you don't have to worry about chasing deadbeats.

Also, don't not evict them because the lease is up. They could choose to over-stay the lease and you're losing valuable time by putting it off. Start eviction proceedings NOW.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:35 AM on July 6, 2012

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