Tenancy Issues

Recovering from a Midnight Move-Out

Collections  |  2 min read

You advertised your condo for rent and they seemed like dream tenants. A polite couple with good references and steady jobs. And for a while, it was perfect.

Months later, something changed. A missed rent payment. You learn the couple split up, and the remaining tenant says he’s been losing shifts at work because of cutbacks. He would make good on it, he promised. A better job was on the horizon.

A second missed rent payment—but are you going to evict a nice guy down on his luck? 

Then you spot the keys, hanging from the doorknob.

You’ve been hit by a Midnight Move-Out. Call it that or a Night Flight, runaway tenants strike many a landlord. It hurts.

And whether it’s through buying commercial or residential investment properties or renting out part of one’s home through a service like AirBnB, more Canadians are becoming landlords than ever before. 

If you’re one of them, you have undoubtedly discovered it’s seldom easy, stress-free money. (Actually, there is only one group of people who believe this to be the case—they’re called “tenants.”)

When your tenant skips town or goes into hiding, it can be nearly impossible to collect the back rent owed to you. Many landlords make the mistake of trying to use the court system, which is slow, expensive, and does little good if the debtor is being evasive. A court judgment does not collect debt for you, and is seldom necessary.

Here are 5 Things You Must Do if You Find Yourself a Victim of Runaway Tenants:

  1. Take photos or video of the abandoned property. It’s smart to include the day’s newspaper in your images to make the date irrefutable. Record any damage before fixing it. 
  2. Get estimates to repair any damage, and replacement costs for any missing items such as furniture or appliances. If you have a furnished rental accommodation, you should always keep a complete list of all furnishings and household items rented with the property.
  3. Make a list of all rental arrears, repairs, replacement of missing items, and cleaning costs. Deduct the security deposit you received at the start of tenancy. 
  4. Submit this information to your collection agency, along with your rental agreement and any additional information that may assist in contacting the former tenant and validating the amount of your claim. 
  5. Go about reconditioning the property and finding a new tenant—and be more strict going forward. Always insist of rent being paid on the due date (generally the first of every month) and have a clear policy of beginning eviction proceedings on the following day. 

In the hands of a good landlord and tenant debt collection agency, your tenant debt will be collected quickly, and you’ll be able to move on, a little bit wiser.

Got questions? Reach out to me directly, or call one of my amazing debt collection experts toll-free at 1-888-797-7727.

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Brian Summerflet Author: Brian Summerfelt

President and CEO of MetCredit, Canada's top-performing consumer and commercial collection agency

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