Okay, final judgement about to be filed. How do I collect?

We had to evict our tenant. The final judgement is going to be filed, probably by next week, and I’d like to see how to go about collecting the money without involving an attorney.

I’m not asking for legal advice, but rather for sites and suggestions on resources so I can get started. I live in Florida.

Best of luck to you in getting your money. I will be reading your responses. When I have been in your shoes I have turned matters over to a collection agency. When the debtor wants to buy a house, they will be eager to satisfy the judgement.

How much did you have to pay the collection agency?

This judgement will already be on their credit report for the next seven years. If they do not satisfy the judgement, I have the right to extend it, and keep extending it until they pay.

Other than wage garnishment, what other way is there to collect? Since I have the final judgement, can I just file a request for wage garnishment with the court?

Collection agencies take a percentage. The last time I used one, it was 30%.

I did some garnishments when I worked in a law firm. Lots of paperwork, precise time frames for serving the papers (yes, more papers to be served), and you have to do everything exactly right or you face penalties of your own. There’s information and links to forms at nolo.com.

You can’t collect the entire judgment at one time, because you can only garnish a percentage of the debtor’s wages. It’s an ongoing process.

If it were me, I’d have a collection agency do it.

I use a collection agency mostly for bounced checks. If the debt is recent, they take 20%. If it is older than (?) they take 30%. I have had a few panicky calls over the years from people who need to fix their credit NOW. I always laugh and tell them that I don’t give a sh*t NOW, I wanted my money back when the check bounced (months to years ago). They can deal with the collection folks NOW. BTW, of the accounts I send to collection, about one in five eventually is paid. Not great, but better than nothing IMHO.

I’ve Googled two collection agencies and contacted two of them. One of them doesn’t handle real estate.

If anyone wants to e-mail me with info on the company they use, my e-mail is in my profile.

Getting the final judgment is just the start of the collection process. To clear up a few things first, the negative information will not appear on the debtor’s credit report. Only those that purchase memberships with the credit reporting agencies can report information. The average Joe Blow cannot place place info on the reports, they would be swamped with every little perceived debt, valid or not. If you turn the debt over to a collection agency, there is a very could chance they will have a membership and can file the negative info.

What you will probably have to do to collect against the judgment is obtain a writ of garnishment. This will allow you to garnish wages, attach bank accounts or if necessary, sieze property. You usually have to wait 30 days after you receive the judgment before you can petiton for a writ. A couple of sites I visit on a regular basis and where you can obtain more detailed info are the Creditboards Forum or Free Advice Forums. Registration at both sites is free and there are some very knowledgable folks there that will help you.

I’m confused. I was told by our attorney that the judgement will show up on their credit report because it is filed by the court, and the court reports to the credit reporting agencies.

Check with your local Sheriff’s department to see if they do any debt collection.

This is the way it works in Indiana.

You can file for garnishment with the small claims court system here, but it’s still not a guarantee of receiving much money. Why? Once someone realizes their wages are being garnished, sometimes they quit and find a new job. THEN you have to go through the state department of workforce development (or something like that) and find out what their new job is and re-file for garnishment with the new employer. At least, that’s what my boss has experienced (over the last 25+ years).

I really don’t mean to be a kill-joy, but if your ex-tenants are determined not to pay you, getting your money will be next to impossible.

My grandmother was a landlord for 25 years. I’ll use the example of what she went through with one family who had stiffed her on a couple months of rent and then trashed the place. (I mean REALLY trashed it.)

She went to court (to which the defendants did not show up) and got a judgement. They didn’t pay. She went to court to get a garnishment of their wages, and they promptly quit their jobs. When she found out where they were working, she went back to get another garnishment, and they just quit their jobs again to avoid paying. After a few times of this, she gave up.

Realize that some people don’t give two shits what you put on their credit report, since they’re unlikely to make any large purchases requiring good credit. Secondly, many landlords don’t belong to a credit agency and don’t run reports before they rent to the people.

Short of holding a gun to their heads, which is illegal in most states (maybe not in Texas*) there’s not much you can do to FORCE them to pay if they’re determined not to do so.

  • I kid, I kid! Texas is a fine state with law-abiding citizens. Please don’t shoot me.

Maybe just try sending them a letter and asking for the money first?

Right.

These people lied to us, were rude and belligerant to the office and the other residents, and got a month’s free rent out of us. I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to pay us when I write them a letter asking them for the money.

In some juristictions, such a letter is required in order to collect. In any case, it can’t hurt.

I don’t think that’s the case here. At least, our attorney hasn’t mentioned that it’s necessary.

I’m going to call the collection agency sometime this week and see what they say.