How do you collect rent from a former tenant?


The typical venue to sue a former tenant is small claims court.  However, getting the judgment against the former tenant is the easy part.  The hard part is trying to collect the final judgment. In Florida, someone's homestead is not subject to liens by creditors.


Attorney Tom Olsen: James, you're on News 96.5, go ahead.

James: Yes Tom, I have a tenant landlord question. I have a tenant who has left the lease with about two months remaining, leaving a debt of about $4,500. His step-mother died in another city in Florida and left the home to him and he says he's going to pay me as soon as he gets everything straightened out.

I have found out he has put a reverse mortgage on the home. So I have two questions. How do I effect a judgment for the debt he still owes? Where do I file a claim? Do I file a claim, first of all? Where do I file it? How do I effect a judgment once I have it, knowing there's a reverse mortgage out there?

Attorney Tom Olsen: James, you would pursue this through Small Claims Court in the county where the property was being rented, and you're calling from Orlando, so that might have been Orange County, so even if he is living in a different county now, you could sue him in Orange County. You would have to serve a copy of the complaint on him wherever he happens to be living now.

Now, James, getting a judgment against somebody, including your former tenant, is usually the easy part. The hard part is trying to collect it. Now, James, here in the state of Florida, the home you live in, not your rental property, not your investment property, the home you live in is absolutely protected from creditor claims. Doctors, hospitals, credit cards, etc. So, James, he could be living in this house that he inherited and it could be worth a million dollars free and clear, but you could still not put a lien on it.

So the fact that he's got a reverse mortgage doesn't matter to you because you never had a lien against it anyway. So, James, you're going to have to make a decision whether it's worthwhile for you to spend your time and money to pursue this former tenant and often the answer is no, James. That's my recommendation for you.

Hey folks we want to remind you again. Call us next week at your office. We're always happy to give you a few minutes of free legal advice at 407-423-5561. That's the Olsen Law Group in Orlando. Or, you can always email us through out website and that is

Like YouTube but LawTube. Thanks for much for all your great calls and questions. I do so much appreciate it. If I may, a suggestion for you, go outdoors and take pleasure in the beauty of nature and, as always, enjoy your friends and family. My name is Tom Olsen. The name of the show is Olsen on Law. You're listening to News 96.5.