I won a civil judgment against my former apartment complex in Clark County, WA for $400. I waited 30 days, and there was no appeal. I docketed the judgment in the district court. I asked the apartment manager several times about repayment before I moved out. She gave me the runaround each time.
I contacted a couple of collection attorneys, and neither was interested in taking the case. They both said I should just talk to the manager again. She is not intimidated by me.
How can I collect on this judgment?
Is there an easy way for a creditor to do this without hiring an attorney?
You may have to take the defendant back to court.
As you are discovering--the hard part in winning a judgement against a party who knows how to play the game is collection---many defendants never pay.
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What you can do is get the appropriate paperwork together for you to seize the debtor's nonexempt assets to satisfy your judgment.
I go to auctions. Used computers that may cost over $1000 when new sells for $5 at auction.
You can seized a lot of computers to satisfy a $400 judgment.
When you show up at the landlord's office to seize its computers, the landlord will almost certainly be quickly giving you $400, interest, plus collection costs in cash.
Alternatively, if you want to go the slower route, you can have the judgment transferred to the superior court where it will automatically become a lien on all the landlord's properties in the county.
If you paid the landlord with checks, you know where the landlord does its banking as the information is on the back of the checks you gave to the landlord that the landlord cash.
You can give the bank the appropriate paperwork for the bank to seize the landlord's money in the bank for you.
There are a number of ways to enforce a judgment. See Title 6 RCW. (https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?Cite=6).
Probably the easiest way is to garnish the debtor's bank account.
There are forms online: http://www.courts.wa.gov/forms/?fa=forms.contribute&formID=20
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I agree with Mr. Kelly, the garnishment route is efficient and effective. You can look at the back of a rent check you paid with and see if the check is indorsed with a rubber stamp which indicates the name of the bank. If so, obtain the necessary garnishment documents as Mr. Kelly stated, fill them out, and have a Writ of Garnishment issued. The Writ and the copy which must go to the defendant/judgment debtor must be sent by certified mail. The garnishment process is is a little bit different in District from the process in Superior Court but the Clerk will make sure you have the proper documents to have the Writ issued.
My practice is limited to representing creditors in debt collection matters in the State of Washington Superior Courts. I recommend consulting with an attorney who has experience with the specific legal issue you are facing. Nothing in this Answer to your question should be interpreted as legal advice.
Agree with all of the above. I'd record the Judgment as a Lien on the Real Estate. The owner will have a hard time financing or refinancing with a lien on. The garnishment and levy route works as well. I like the option of garnishing/levy on a bank account identified by reading the endorsement stamp on a rent check. I have been known to issue a check for "photocopying costs" just to get that stamp. Many endorsements stamps also have a "deposit only to Account Number #####", then you really have them in your sights.
At $400.00 the debt will not attract any attorney. You're going to have to DIY.
The RCW can be a bit of a thick read. The process is a tad tedious, but keep pounding and you will be able to get your Writs for Garnishment issued, take the Writ to the Sheriff, and do the Sheriff's paperwork to get the Writ served and money collected. The expenses of all of this are recoverable.
The forms for Writs and Garnishments should all be available online or at any courthouse.
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