Can I sue my former tenant for unpaid rent?


Bobby: Good morning. Thanks for taking my call. I have a question about recoup funds or rent from a tenant that I had in my rental property. He ran on hard times, lost his job and so I let him pay half of the rent for December, and then helped, let him recoup the job. 

Attorney Tom Olsen: I got it. So what’s your question to me, Bobby?

Bobby: Yes.

Attorney Tom Olsen: What’s your question to me? 

Bobby: The question is, how can I recoup those funds? What’s the record for that? 

Attorney Tom Olsen: Well, it would be in Small Claims Court, Bobby. I assume it’s less than $5,000.

Bobby: It is.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Bobby, for you to sue your former tenant would absolutely require that you know where he or she is, so you know where to serve a copy of the complaint on them whether it's a new home they live in or whether they work. Do you know where they’re located?

Bobby: Not at the current time. They’ve moved out of state. 

Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay. Bobby, out of state, you don't know where they are, Bobby, and I'm so sorry at the end of the day, you have got a legal remedy. You might be able to go to court. You might be able to sue them. You'll end up with a piece of paper that says they owe you money, but it’s going to be a big waste of your time and money, and court costs filing fees, Bobby. So I hate to say, but more than likely, you've just got to put this matter to rest, would be my recommendation.