HOW TO COLLECT DEBTS WHEN YOUR TENANT LEAVES OWING YOU MONEY
an interview with Jeff Cronrod, CEO: Fidelity Information Corporation
“The nature of tenant debt collection is very different than collecting other types of debts,” explains Jeff Cronrod with FIC, an expert in collecting tenant debt. “With other types of debt, time is of the essence. You have a better chance of collecting a medical debt, for instance, if you collect it right away. The opposite is true of tenant debt. You will be far more successful if you wait it out until the tenant is back on his feet.”
“But often landlords don’t understand the value of their old debt files,” Jeff continues. “They tend to give up right away.” On average, it takes about 20 months or more to start getting payments on delinquent rent, and it could take much longer. “We’ve had files we’ve pursued for 16 or 17 years,” Jeff says.
Consequently, when interviewing collection agencies, landlords need to find someone who is willing to work that file for as long as it takes. There is some work involved in changing collection agencies if you hire someone who isn’t doing a good job for you, so it’s worth shopping around.
Jeff offers some tips for finding the right collection firm:
- Make sure they are licensed. Your best best is someone licensed in several states, because the tenants tend to move around. Ideally, you want someone who is able to chase them anywhere in the country.
- Look for ACA- American Collectors Association membership. This is the ethics board/bonding agent for collectors.
- Ask if they do rent collection. Many collection agencies do not.
“From there, look for someone who is willing to stick with the file for as long as it takes to collect it. Collection agencies are always looking for new, fresh accounts because that’s where the money is. You want someone who will not close the file while the debt is still valid, which could be a number of years.”
“And it’s always a good idea to get references,” Jeff adds.
Hear more of this interview, including an easy way to find out how long you have to collect your debt, the value of pursuing a judgment, collection agency fee structure, and some red flags when interviewing collection agencies, on the American Apartment Owners Association’s CD series, Real Estate Investment Secrets, twelve exclusive interviews with industry experts that will supercharge your ability to locate the best investment properties and manage or sell them for maximum profit. Real Estate Investment Secrets is available for purchase from American Apartment Owners Association. Join as a Premium Plus member, and receive all of the benefits of our association including Real Estate Investment Secrets free as our gift for joining. Visit www.joinaaoa.org for more information.
See our related story Two Secrets to Help You Save Money on Tenant Debt Collection.
Debt collection begins when you interview the prospective tenant. See our series Seven Vital Tips to Maximize Your Tenant Debt Recovery.
American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services related to your commercial housing investment, including tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.
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