Rentals in Houston>Question Details

Steve, Home Owner in Houston, TX

My tenant owes me $4700, and her mother cosigned the lease. What can I do to collect?

Asked by Steve, Houston, TX Wed Jul 6, 2011

My tenant moved broke the lease and moved out early, according to the lease agreement, she is still responsible for rent until I found another tenant. She also caused some significant damages to the property, altogehter about $4700. Her mother cosigned the lease, and both seemed somewhat concerned about it being on their credit report. Ideally, I would like to collect the money, if not, then I would like to show up on their credit report. What are my options in the two areas? I am told, before I can do anything, I need to get a judement against them by goint through the small claim court. Is this true, I thought by having a lease agreement, I would not need it. Thank you.

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I agree with Eugena about sending a Demand letter to both parties, and do get the police involved with damages and take a LOT of pictures.
Stay totally professional with your letter and dont get personal or angry. If you do have to go to small claims, you dont want to look like an overbearing landlord to the judge.

Do let them know that you are filing police report because of the damage to your property, so you can recover from your insurance if they dont pay up.
Do send the demand letters certified, regular mail, and e-mail. Keep copies of all receipts for evidence in case you have to file a small claims case.

Of course I am not an attorney, but as a landlord myself, you do have rights as a property owner, so exercise them.
Do consult a real estate attorney if you cannot find all the information you need to protect yourself.
Check with your state's website concerning landlord/tenants rights and property codes, here is one of many that may be of help to you.…
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 6, 2011
Small Claims is certainly an option. however you may want to look in to hiring an attorney in Houston Texas that will work off contingency to collect the debt owed to you; the companies these attorneys work for can also report the delinquency to the credit bureaus. This is very important to report the delinquent debt! this keeps the individual from getting approved by another management company. They will also send out the demand letters. This is the method we use and it has been HIGHLY effective for us!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 14, 2013
You do need to file in small claims court. Once you win a judgement it should show up on their credit. You can also sell the judgement to a collector. Good luck to you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 25, 2011
Work with tenant, and break the payment down, remember the longterm. Carma also.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 16, 2011
Hello, Steve.
Good Luck! I hope you work to get your money paid and yes it will be work but many times it does pay off. I was wondering if you used a Realtor and did a credit check on these folks? Call me when you have some time. I'd like to hear the story. Thanks Kathleen - 281-799-4002
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 6, 2011
I am not an attorney, but I am a Landlord. Because I am not a reporting member of the credit bureau, I am not able to report a late or non-paying tenant. I can only share my personal experience here...

I once needed to evict a tenant, then I filed a small claims suit against them to try to recover the funds I was owed. In court, judgement was placed in my favor against the tenant and co-signer. Neither paid the judgement (immediately). Some time later, both the tenant and co-signer contacted me, BEGGING me to take their money and help them remove the judgments against them. It seems that the judgement DID show up on both of their credit reports =) and it was suddenly bothersome to them because they were applying for a home loan. Timing was an issue, too, because the 1st time home buyer tax credit was about to run dry and they suddenly had a fire lit under their rears to pay me what was owed.

So, small claims was not a quick way to get my money, but it was, in the end an effective way. Good luck to you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 6, 2011
First, I would send a Demand Letter to both parties of the Lease Agreement outlining all what is owed for rents, late fees etc & damages giving them at least Ten (10) days to respond or you will File a record of Lien against them both and must send it Certified Return Receipt Requested, Regular Mail, Hand Delivery & email.

The damages you can also call the police and make a report of the damages & value.

If they don't respond then go to your local Precinct and file in Small Claims Court and file against each person on the Lease. Have their Drivers license & SSN if you have it. Then fill out & complete the petition. Some Precinct have different requirements so search what you need to do. But get that Demand Letter out today.

This will take some time but you can get it done.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 6, 2011
We are not attorney's but there are a couple of options.

#1, Send them a bill for what is due.
#2. If they don't pay the bill take them to small claims court. Get a judgement.
#3. Then get a lawyer or credit collection company to try to collect.

Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 6, 2011
Bruce Lynn, Real Estate Pro in Coppell, TX
Mr. McMahon is correct as realtors and agents we are not allowed to act as an attorney, however your lease should dictate what actions you are able to take. From my previous experience as a apartment manager, we were able to go after the tenant and the cosigner, because the lease made them both responsible for the lease. I would simply send the file to debt collector and hope for the best. Any further action like civil suites and so on would need the wise counsel of an attorney. Although it may cost you a bit more than simply sending it to a debt collector, an attorney is really the best option.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 6, 2011
collect from mom.....she cosigned. or, hire a collection agency to do it for you. they will send out letters and if she does not pay after having an opportunity to do so, you may have it go on her credit (in compliance with the texas property code and FCRA), of course....
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 6, 2011
In Harris County, you can go and file in small claims court. Be sure you have an accurate address for your tenants, so they can serve them. You will be given a date to appear in court. If they don't show, it will automatically be in your favor and that's when you can place a judgment against them. Be sure to have all of your ducks in a row regarding paperwork to prove they abandonded and didn't pay. If you need help, feel free to contact me, as I manage properties and I have been through the process before.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 6, 2011
The best thing to do is seek competant legal council .
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 6, 2011
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