unpaid rental fee
September 10, 2007 2:39 PM   Subscribe

I am out side country, & my renter have missed two month payments.

What should I do?
The person has not paid any utility bills nor paid any rent in last two month. I have sent him serveral emails and telegram. No answer. For all I know he could be messing up my apartment.

I was in a hurry to travel out, and agree to not get any down payments. Ther person's telephone is disconnected. I have his social security number.

What legal actions can I take? We don't have any official contract. I don't have any way for anyone to go check out the place either. I am going back next month.

what are my rights? How can I get the unpaid rent fee easy? I will only be in the states for a week once I go back.
posted by curiousleo to Law & Government (12 answers total)
What does your lawyer say?

You have a lawyer, right? If not, get a lawyer.

It sounds like you'll need to start eviction proceedings....
posted by bshort at 2:42 PM on September 10, 2007

Response by poster: I was stupid... not having official contract or down payment.
Do I really need a lawyer..? The person/rentee is low income person, I am already half way giving up getting the back payments. But I will really get pissed if he messes up the apartment and take off while I am out here.

Do I really need to pay more for the lawyer to settle this?
posted by curiousleo at 2:58 PM on September 10, 2007

What country is the renter in?
posted by rhapsodie at 3:22 PM on September 10, 2007

So...you let someone live in your apartment, with no written contract - only a verbal agreement that they would pay monthly rent. IANAL, but it sounds like you are S.O.L.
posted by gnutron at 3:44 PM on September 10, 2007

First thing I'd do is send someone over to see if anyone's still living in the place. If yes, I'd leave a note, giving them a week to contact you via phone or email before you contact a lawyer. That might be enough to at least start communication, and you can go from there.
posted by mediareport at 3:51 PM on September 10, 2007

Call the landlord for help?
posted by thilmony at 3:56 PM on September 10, 2007

"First thing I'd do is send someone over to see if anyone's still living in the place."

The poster said "I don't have any way for anyone to go check out the place either." Though I find that somewhat hard to believe. Where is this place? You could possibly have the police swing by. Call and say that you are out of the country and cannot make contact with the person living in your place, and you're concerned about his welfare, and ask them if they would go by and make sure the place is secure and there isn't a dead body there or something. I think they will do that.
posted by litlnemo at 4:08 PM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

What legal actions can I take?
Do I really need a lawyer..?

If you want to take legal action, you probably need a lawyer. Unless you are one yourself, which it sounds like you're not.

But, to summarize: you're out of the country, you don't have any way to contact the tenant, you don't have a contract, you're not receiving any payments, you don't have anyone who can check on the property for you, you won't be back for a month, and you'll only be in the country for a week at that time. I don't think those are compatible with "How can I get the unpaid rent fee easy?".

Is there anybody you know in the city your property is in, who you could call and offer to pay to check on your property for you?
posted by hades at 4:11 PM on September 10, 2007

You should call a property management company, and pay them to take over this problem. Unpaid rent and utility bills are a major drag, but damage to your home could be much worse.

If the utilities get shut off, it will help encourage the tenant to depart.

Your recourse for collecting from this person is probably small claims court, which takes some time. Collecting on a judgment can also be difficult. Sorry, but I think you should be prepared to lose this money.
posted by theora55 at 4:23 PM on September 10, 2007

And--while it doesn't help in this situation--if you're going to continue to be a landlord in the future, you might want to pick up a book or two on the subject. Property Management for Dummies looks decent, and nolo.com has a section on property management.

On preview, what theora55 said. If you can't handle this yourself, you can easily pay someone to handle it for you.
posted by hades at 4:24 PM on September 10, 2007

In hindsight, yes a good idea to get a property management company to take care of your rental while gone. The cost is worth the peace of mind. But for now what's done is done. Call a lawyer and start proceedings now. Why? Because even if you evict, the court will give the tenant x days to clear out. If you start it now (and have your lawyer represent you in court), you may be back when they are gone so you can take care of repairs etc.

If the utilities get shut off, it will help encourage the tenant to depart.

I doubt that utilities are under OP's name. Looks to me like these people are skipping out an all their payments and may very well have skipped town.

Seconding litlnemo's suggestion. Call the cops and tell them to check on the house.
posted by special-k at 4:31 PM on September 10, 2007

Small claims court? Without a written lease or other contract? What exactly is the poster supposed to petition the court to enforce?

You'll be lucky when you get back if there isn't a marijuana grow in your apartment - if it hasn't burned to the ground. Have someone check on the place as soon as you possibly can; ideally, have them change the locks.

Forget about what you're calling "unpaid rent" - without documentation of a lease, there can be no rent. You have bigger worries. If the place burns down or otherwise becomes unsafe due to the action of your undocumented tenant, you will be fully liable. If someone burns to death because your undocumented tenant started a fire with his marijuana grow or meth lab, you will be liable for all kinds of horrible criminal and civil penalties. You need to terminate this situation as soon as you possibly can.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:39 PM on September 10, 2007

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