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  • Question about lawsuits

    I've never sued anyone before and I don't know anyone who has, so I hoping one of you might have an answer to my question.

    I own a condo that I rent out. I may soon find myself in a position where I may have to sue the tenant to pay back a water bill that I just found out was not being paid for about 2 years. (around $3000.)

    I am also pretty sure that even if I were to win the suit, I would still not be paid because I doubt my tenant has the money.

    What, if anything, happens if the settlement goes unpaid. Does it become a criminal matter. Is it a small time contempt of court/court order, or what?

    I'm just trying to think ahead in the event that I need to 'threaten' my tenant with the repercussions of not paying down the balance on my water bill.

    Any advise is welcome.

  • #2
    IF you win the case in small claims court, and get a judgement against your tenant, it is still a civil (not criminal) matter.

    If the tenant fails to pay the judgement, it is STILL a civil matter......there is no 'debtors prison' in the USA.....

    What your recourse at that point would be is something a lawyer could would be able to place a lien (against future earnings) on the tenants credit report.....that is probably about it.
    The posts on this forum by this poster are of his personal opinion, and his personal opinion alone

    "Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed often and for the same reason"

    "We fight not for glory; nor for wealth; nor honor, but only and alone we fight for freedom, which no good man surrenders but with his life"


    • #3
      my brother sued a tenant once. he won and she still didnt pay. he was going to attach to her wages but she didnt have a job so it was pointless.
      If guns cause crime, all of mine are defective.

      "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who are not."
      Thomas Jefferson


      • #4
        Crap, this sucks! Thanks for the responses. Sounds like I'm pretty much screwed if I can't convince her to pay it on her own.

        All this, combined with the other junk that I've been putting up with, leads me to the opinion that being a landlord sucks!

        Thanks again.


        • #5
          Was the water bill in your name? How is it you are responsible for your tenant's bill?
          If you see me running try to keep up!


          • #6
            I would say that you need to hire a lawyer and evict the tenant.
            Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
            Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein


            • #7
              Rule #1 if you have a tennant that is responsible for a bill, make them place the bill in their name. When they don't pay the bill it's totally on them and not you. The water company enjoys the right to turn off their water which usually prompts them to pay the bill. You as a landlord may not do so and therefore get stuck holding the bag.

              IF you win a civil suit against the individual you may petition the court to attach their earnings or seize their property if they do not pay the settlement, but how much blood can you squeeze from a turnip?
              Today's Quote:

              "The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."
              Albert Einstein


              • #8
                I had called the water billing company(not the city) and they said that I could not remove my name. I could only add my tenat as a "care of". So the bill reads: my name, c/o tenants name.

                The only good thing is that this biling company does not report on my credit.

                Im going to try to be nice about it and see how much I can get for the bill, before dropping the hammer on her to get the heck out.


                • #9
                  Last edited by SBSO_DISPATCHER; 12-05-2009, 07:06 AM.
                  Gotta catch em allll.........


                  • #10
                    hopefully you secured a security deposit and can keep that to help pay the bill.
                    Ivan, did you see the sun rise this morningsigpic?


                    • #11
                      It's all civil, if you can even call it that.

                      What does it say in your rental contract with the tenant? On most leases I've read, there is a clause that the tenant will be responsible for all utilities from date of entry until exit.

                      Worse case scenario:
                      If this clause is not spelled out, it might be assumed that you bundled the water utilities as part of the rental amount, making yourself liable for the charges. This brings you to another problem, where you violate the "habitability" of the property by failing to provide the water. It only turns criminal for you if you done it on purpose.

                      Best case scenario:
                      If you do win a judgment against her and she has considerable assets to liquidate (like a 60" plasma screen tv or 2 cars), then you get a judge via lawsuit to order the sale to generate the funds. Keep in mind that while it is available, its limited in usage because its expensive to file, most judges are not willing to grant these type of orders because of the scrutiny involved, plus it can't interfere with someone's livelihood (if she only has one car to get to work and back, etc).

                      DISCLAIMER: This is not intended to substitute the professional advice of a licensed attorney.


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