We have a signed annual lease agreement. Renter was four months behind on rent. We served 15 notice to pay on him. He verbally stated he was going out of business. Moved everything out of the property location. How can we collect the money still owed to us?
You should retain a local real estate attorney to write a formal demand letter and then commence lawsuit if the informal demand does not work. Provided the lease is valid, the lease obligates the tenant to pay. However, if the tenant does not choose to fulfill its obligation, prevailing in a lawsuit against the tenant to recover the unpaid rent will allow you obtain a judgment against the tenant. This judgment will allow you garnish bank accounts, and levy assets. The judgment will attach to real and personal property of the tenant. This means that you could force a sale and get paid from the proceeds or if the property is sold receive a portion of the proceeds. Judgments also accrue interest at the current rate of 4.75%.
If the tenant is an individual, the judgment will attach to all non-homestead real property, and non-exempt personal property.
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A great deal depends on exactly how your renter went out of business, and how or if he was incorporated or not, and a complete answer would take a long time to write. I would advise contacting a firm in your area that does commercial collections or business law.
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Landlord / Tenant Lawyer
This depends on who rented the space.
If the renter is the owner of the business, you could sue the owner and go after personal assets and income. But if the renter is the business itself, you would have to file suit against the business and go after the business assets.
It is possible that the owner co-mingled the business assets and his own personal assets, and if that is the case things get a little more complicated in a lawsuit because you will have to convince the court under a business alter-ego theory.
You should consult with an attorney who can review the lease agreement; determine whether it was a bargain with the owner or the business itself; and judge whether or not it is worth suing the business, the owner, or both.
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All of the answers that my colleagues posted are correct. However, getting a judgment does not guarantee that you will get paid. If the defendant does not have any money, your suing him will not make him any richer. The first rule in commercial litigation is to make sure that the defendant has enough money to pay you if you win.
Disclaimer: This answer is provided for informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Actual legal advice can only be provided after completing a comprehensive consultation in which all of the relevant facts are discussed and reviewed.
Personal Injury Lawyer
The advise given by my colleagues is solid advice.
The only thing I would add is a personal guarantee by the owner of the business or other persons would help protect you in the event a business goes under. I suggest you bring any and all information you have on the company as well as the lease agreement to a consultation with an attorney and discuss your options.
The answer to your question is - you probably can't collect the rent owed. You can track down the business by going to Sunbiz.org, but if there is no money, then your chances of collecting are not good.
Carol Johnson Law Firm, P.A. : (727) 647-6645 : firstname.lastname@example.org : Wills, Trusts, Real Property, Probate, Special Needs: Information provided here is anecdotal and should not be relied upon or considered legal advice. Every matter is different and answers given here are general in nature and may not reflect current Florida law at the time you are reading this posting. Please contact me if you feel you need additional assistance with your matter.