The Court does not make good financially. If the tenant damaged your property and failed to pay rent, then you can get a judgment (upon proper proof of damages) against the tenant. Once you get a judgment then you can take steps to collect. You can have the Court order the tenant to complete a fact information sheet, you can conduct post-judgment asset discovery, you can levy on real property (provided you record a certified copy of the judgment in the county where the property is located) or personal property (provided you file a judgment lien certificate with the Florida Dept of State), garnish wages or other income owed to the tenant. If the tenant has no money, then you are out of luck. The good news is that a judgment lasts 20 years unless the tenant declares bankruptcy. There are certain steps you need to take to perfect the judgment on real property and personal property and to keep the judgment a lien on the property. When the 20 years is about to expire you can always file an action on the judgment. Who knows the tenant may win a scratch off lottery. Generally, I advise landlords not to bother going forward with a judgment for damages unless they can get it by summary judgment or by default judgment. It is generally too much time and money spent trying to obtain the judgment with little or no benefit.
This response is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. This response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts set forth in the question. To the extent additional or different facts are presented, the response might change
The creditor can sue the debtor for the debt...in this case, the property owner can sue the former tenant for the unpaid rent, late fees, and other charges.
The owner must be able to prove the damages by showing the lease agreement, pictures of damages and dirty premises, receipts for cleaning and purchase of replacement items and receipts for vendors, etc.
The owner must be able to have the former tenant personally served by a process server or sheriff of the county where the former tenant now lives.
If the owner gets a final judgment for damages, they can then do garnishment or collections.
The debtor often tries to evade collection and garnishment by avoiding process, claiming head of household, closing bank accounts, etc. Not for the faint of heart.
All litigation is time consumng, frustrating, and expensive. Before filing suit against anyone of anything, you should make sure that the person you are suing has enough money to pay the judgment you may get against him or her. If the former tenant has no money, it may be a better economic decision for you not to sue. If you are unsure of the costs and potential outcomes of litigation, you should consult an experienced real estate lawyer in your area.
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.
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