What happens once you have finally evicted your tenants? What do you do about the money they left owing?
The good news is that the money judgment is initially valid for 6 years (but can be renewed to remain valid). You may decide that you want to let the dust settle before trying to recover any monies owed to you.
Once you have decided that you want to proceed, it is sensible to firstly undertake some due diligence –Did they have high value possessions? Did the tenant have a guarantor? If there was a guarantor and judgment was also awarded against them, then you can enforce the judgment against them personally for the debt left by the tenant. If there was no guarantor and little is known about the tenant, then there is the option to undertake an asset and address trace. This way you not only find where they are now residing but also whether enforcement would be worthwhile.
There are then several options open to you, the most common of which are:
If you know where they are working, you could enforce the judgment via an attachment of earnings where an amount set by the court would be deducted from their salary.
If you have their bank details, you could apply to the court to freeze their bank account, however, do bear in mind that there is no way of knowing how much is in the account or choosing which day the account is frozen.
If you have their new address you could send enforcement agents who would attempt to seize goods up to the value of the debt outstanding. Vehicles on the premises owned by the debtor could also be seized and sold at auction (providing they are free of finance).
Trying to recover money owed by your previous tenant is not an easy task and cannot be only time consuming but also a stressful process. As always, it is advisable to speak with a professional to ensure the most cost-effective route is pursued.
Article by Rossanna Yarleque