When The Tenant Won’t Pay: How To Collect on a Judgement

how to collect
Written by T.E. Wing

You win a judgement against your loser tenant but he still won’t pay. What to do? Here’s how to collect on a judgement.

No matter how good of a landlord you are, rent horror stories make appearances from time to time.

Your tenant repeatedly pays rent late until one day or decides to not pay rent at all. You reach out to your tenant one more time. But no luck.

It’s apparent that this tenant isn’t going to pay, and the deposit isn’t enough to cover the rent charges, not to mention normal wear and tear and other damages that need to be repaired.

You decide to take action with Toronto lawyers — or lawyers in your area — and your lawyer recommends that you take legal action over the money the tenant owes you. You take that advice and it pans out: You win a money judgement in court against the tenant. You thank your lawyers for doing a job well done and are ready to collect your money. …

But your tenant still won’t pay.

Now what?

If you find yourself in this situation, take a deep breath and keep reading. r. Here are five ways to collect on a judgement.

Keep records of everything

While this might sound obvious to some people, you must keep records of everything. This will come in handy if your tenant continues refusal of payment or doesn’t respond at all.

You will want to keep records of the lease, emails and other notices of your giving the tenant fair warning about the late rent as well as any responses they had via text or email, a tracking of all money you spend for judgement, a judgement copy and anything else you find related to your case.

Record-keeping is an essential strategy for landlords to incorporate, especially when these types of situations come up.

Encourage tenant to pay

At this point, it might sound silly to ask your tenant to pay considering he or she hasn’t paid up until this point; however, you have officially taken legal action and you won a money judgement.

Your tenant knows you’re serious. He or she doesn’t want to hurt his or her credit score as well as have trouble renting at future places. Your tenant might be willing to negotiate a settlement or make payments once it’s evident he or she is at fault. While it might not sound appealing, receiving some of the owed money is better than receiving nothing, which does happen in some cases.

Garnish wages

Procedures in wage garnishment can vary by state. Typically, it involves going to your local courthouse and receiving a garnishment order, which goes to your tenant’s employer. Money is then withheld from his or her paychecks until the debt is paid off.

Hire a collection agency

While you will have to pay to hire a collection agency and taking this route might not lead to you receiving all of the money that’s owed to you, as stated earlier, receiving some is better than not receiving anything at all. Unfortunately, you still have no guarantee that your tenant will pay.

Get more help

If your tenant still isn’t paying or you’d rather have a professional help you, then you can ask the court for help. You can receive documents or orders so you can collect information on your tenant, allowing you to collect judgement from property or, as stated earlier, wages of the debtor.

Another idea is talking to a lawyer to see what else you can do because each state has different laws, and it could be easier for a professional to collect the money or help you do so.

Horror stories, unfortunately, happen, which is why it’s important to take the rental application process seriously to ensure you get reliable tenants. Screen all of your tenants before renting to them in hopes of preventing these types of situations.

Cover image: Zanesmith.com