Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in Virginia

Renter quit lease and hasn't paid past due

I have a rental unit that I lease on 30day to 90day basis. I had a tenant who signed a 90 lease and left halfway through. Prior to this tenant leaving he wrote me a check for $4710 to cover all his past due rent up to that point. His check was returned for non sufficient funds. He says his wife used that account when she shouldn't have and that's the reason the check was returned. I did call his bank when I received his check to verify the check was good and they said it was. Can I get the police involved to help recover the past due amount? What should I do legally? This tenant is trying to make good but as of today he still hasn't paid, I don't want this to linger on for a long period of time.

Thanks

Asked on 11/15/06, 4:38 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Jonathon Moseley Office of Jonathon Moseley
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Re: Renter quit lease and hasn't paid past due

As a creditor receiving a bad check, you have a choice. You can either request criminal prosecution or you can collect on the money.

However, the police will NOT get your money for you.

They can begin prosecution. Realistically, a criminal prosecution will probably make it HARDER for you to get your money, because a person with a criminal record is going to have a harder time earning any money. Obviously, someone in jail cannot be working at a job, although I doubt the person would actually spend much if any time in jail if convicted.

On the other hand, you can go to small claims court and file for a court judgment to get your money back. The fact that the person wrote you a check is very, very strong evidence to prove that he owes you the money, practically an admission (although other defenses might be possible, such as I pay by check for a used car but the seller never actually gives me the car).

You then have up to 10 years to collect this money from him.

For a bad check under $250, you can actually recover 3 times the amount.

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11/16/06, 8:48 am

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