rental agreement

If you are a property owner and your tenant has skipped out without paying the rent, attempting to collect the money can be difficult. The first step in collecting on back rent is to find the person. This is not easy to do, because your former tenant likely did not leave many clues as to where he went.

Start Your Search With the Rental Application

There are a couple of pieces of information on a rental application that can be helpful. The first is your former tenant’s place of employment. If they are still employed at the same company, this will likely be your best chance of contacting them.

Of course one reason people don’t pay their rent is because they are not working and don’t have the money to do so. In this case, you will need to look at personal references listed on the application. Often, a reference listed can let you know where your ex-tenant can be found. However, if an individual suspects you are looking for someone for the purpose of collecting money, they may not be helpful. A private investigator knows the best way to elicit information from someone over the phone or in person and is likely to have better success.

Check With the Post Office

Amazingly enough, your ex-tenant may have left a forwarding address. It is usually not so simple that the forwarding address is your ex-tenant’s new residence. It might be the address of a relative or friend. This usually happens when they have something important coming in the mail that they want, like a tax refund check. The forwarding address can be tricky information to use, and a private investigation firm will have greater success in using it, but it is possible to find people in this manner.

Look at Social Media

It seems everyone uses social media, and your ex-tenant may be no different. Often a person who thinks they are hiding will forget about their social media use. People often don’t realize how much you can find out from various social media sites. Some of this information may be directly helpful in finding your ex-tenant, while other pieces of information may be clues that can lead you to another source of information. Using social media is one of the many tools private investigators use during a skip tracing investigation.

Locating Your Ex-tenant May Not Be Enough

Of course, finding a tenant who owes you money is only a first step. A bigger problem is attempting to collect. There are laws regarding debt collection, and you can easily find yourself in trouble with the law. The best course of action is to bring your former tenant to court. If this individual is gainfully employed, a judge may order her wages to be garnished.

You may want to save time, and have a private investigator locate the person for you. Even if you find the person, it is best to proceed with debt collection through the courts which means you’ll also need to serve them. Our investigation firm can locate your former tenant and serve them legal papers after you have filed your suit with the court.

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Bruce Robertson

Bruce Robertson is a private investigator and founder of Tristar Investigation, California’s premiere detective agency. Bruce is also a media commentator for the investigation industry, featured in the New York Times, CNN, History Channel, MSNBC, Los Angeles Times and many more. You can find him on Google+ LinkedIn and YouTube.