Collection of Tenant Debt after Eviction


Unfortunately, it happens that we find it difficult to collect on judgment for eviction, monies owed from a past tenant. Sometimes the best we can do seems not enough.

We use collection services, but what can be done if the collection service doesn’t work, as it most often will not? After the appeal date of 5 days for an eviction, we file for an Abstract of the Judgment. The JP court where we get an eviction prepares the Abstract, which we, for the Plaintiff (the owner) files with the County Clerk’s office (It can be done by mail). The Abstract of Judgment places a lien against the individual’s name and prohibits this person from buying or selling real property within the county or counties in which we have filed the Abstract. The problem is that it can be hard and even impossible to know where the Defendant will want to buy real property in the future.

We determine where to file an Abstract by knowing from their application where they work. We will file in the county where they work and often in surrounding counties. An Abstract of Judgment only costs a few dollars (less than $10) and must be paid to each county where the Abstract is filed. The last one we did cost $7 per county. The JP court will tells us the cost(s). The Abstract is good for 10 years, but may be renewed at the end of 10 years to keep it going.

To carry it a step further, we request Writs of Execution. This is an order issued to the Sheriff’s office. The Sheriff makes contact with the individual and attempts to collect judgment. If the individual does not pay, the Sheriff will seize any non-exempt personal property, confiscated to sell at a public auction to pay off the judgment. Personal property exemptions value is $60,000 in Texas. That fact can be a problem in collection using this method. Individuals being served may only be in possession of items that are exempt from being confiscated.

We have little luck collecting monies using debt collection services. Very little luck. We have never collected monies via filing the Abstract of Judgment or by requesting the Writ of Execution.

We determine to file the Abstracts of Judgment on larger amounts and use the Writs of Execution when we want the individual to know we have not forgotten about them owing money, and reinforcing them knowing that a lien has been filed on their name in a county court. We hope that someday they will want to buy real property and our owner will recover damages plus interest. I am sure collection by lien after years happens more often than we know.

The entire cost for the combinations of filings and service after eviction is $300.00, more or less, depending on the various counties’ service cost for the Writ of Execution.

Usually, individuals are not easy to find when they are trying to avoid paying a debt. In these cases we wait some time, usually a couple of months or three, and run another background check through our screening service(s). We’ll find them through the investigative portion of the screening reports, looking for their current and past residences. We do not run another credit report for the purpose of finding their new address.

Seek an attorney’s advice. I am a property manager.

Until next time,


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