Very few homeowners use the Small Claims Court to collect the rent or damages that tenants owe. The Small Claims Court is a good and perfectly useful way of collecting overdue rent, property damage caused by tenants and generally, any dispute over money between a landlord and a tenant. Often, an owner can avoid this in conjunction with the tenant review and credit checks.
It is also helpful to resolve any disputes you may have with contractors or suppliers, whether for issues such as appliance fixes, Japanese knotweed removal or any other issue. Before hiring, make sure you have a copy of the Workers’ Compensation and Civil Liability Policy. There are limits for the small claims court. Although you do not need a lawyer, there are limits to the amount of the claim.
Conflicts between tenants and homeowners: What you need
Provide a good contract or lease to prove that your application is valid and agreed by contract between you and the tenant. Bring any written communication, such as letters or emails, to document your case. Many property management companies never delete e-mails from a tenant or contractor.
It is always a good idea to provide the tenant with a move on the inspection form where the tenant can document the damage that occurred at the time of the move. – An inspection to move by you or a staff member to document damage to the unit before and after the renter moved and digital photos of damage there.
These digital photos can provide excellent documentation. Cheap digital cameras are a good investment and can help the judge visualize the problem, whether it’s damage to the home, a failure to notify on knotweed in the garden to provide timely Japanese knotweed removal, or any other situation that can be documented visually.
How does it work
Good documentation: Bring all documents and supporting evidence, such as copies of the addendum / e-mails / correspondence / photo recipes / Let. If your documentation is good and has good digital photos of the property before and after the move, you should be in good shape.
Make your case: present your case before a judge with copies of all the files. Spend a little time on the sequence of events and place your documents in that order. Relax and explain to the judge why you are right.
The decision: Once the court has made a decision, there is usually a time limit for appeal. If the other party does not appeal and the assigned time limit has elapsed, you can now try to obtain the tenant’s judgment.
Payment: Once a judgment has been rendered in your favour, obtain a copy of the judgment and send it to the tenant and establish a period of time required for payment. You may require a payment if it is complete or you can authorize a schedule of progress payments. If a tenant does not pay as agreed, register the judgment
Record it: This is a procedure that places judgment on the public record and will vary from state to state. You must record the lawsuit to see everything. It’s not nasty, but the seriousness of having an outstanding lien against the tenant and the documentation of the credit reporting agencies is the lever that will get you your money.
Debt collection: an industry whose sole function is to collect bad debt. They often operate by offering to charge a percentage of the debt. In general, there is no charge if the debt cannot be debited. We do not know if they are effective, but having a conversation with a problematic tenant cannot hurt.