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TempeLandlord

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #1 
My biggest mistake was letting the contract expire and transitioning into a "tennants at will" month to month verbal contract..it turns out that in AZ its harder to get them out when they stop paying. The process involves giving them 1 full payment cycle in the 30 day notice to end the rent agreement. For example.. they only paid 2/3rds of the Feb rent.. the last 3rd was prommised over and over till it was 16 Feb. At this point, or any point in Feb, in order to terminate the agreement I need to give them a 30 day notice through the end of march before I am eligible to start the eviction process. Only after 31 March can I finally send them a 5 day letter to vacate or face eviction. So a scamming tennant can just not pay and since its already into the month, the landlord is really out 60 days of rent before he can file a 5 day detainer notice..then it will take a few weeks to actually get them out from there.. so figure 90 days to get month to month renters out.

So anyway..I scared them into leaving this weekend, 16 Mar by telling them the sheriff was coming, even though i havent even filed the complaint yet. It looks like they are leaving, So here is my question after all this.

Once they are out, I still want to take them to small claims court for the back rent. Should I take each one to court separately? Or lump them into one complaint? I like the idea of separate complaints because it's more of a divide and conquer approach than having them gang up on me. What do you guys think I should do?
LLinVA

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Posts: 494
Reply with quote  #2 
State law may dictate how you need to do it. We would do it all at once. I don't see a reason to pay for multiple filings, then have the judge say you can't ask for the full amount from multiple people because that would give you much more than owed if they all paid. 
TempeLandlord

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #3 
Hi LLinVA,
I see your point, but lets say I file once with all tennants at the same time, and lets say the judge rules in favor of me the landlord. Then isnt that the same thing, in that now I could go after any one or all of the tennants for the full judgment. I could pin the full judgement to all of them at the same time..

Now ethically, once i got the full judgment, i would have to stop collecting, but that same ethical responsibility would also apply if i filed 3 seperate claims and won on all 3 for the same amount.

Thanks for your thoughts,
Eric
LLinVA

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Posts: 494
Reply with quote  #4 
Filing together would award you one amount. Filing separately would award you that amount x3 (or however many tenants are involved). That's a big difference. I'd be really surprised if any locality let you file it as multiple actions, at least not without going after each for a fraction of the total. I honestly don't think you get to pick, I think you have to do it as one. Then they are all legally responsible for the amount owed, it would be up to them how to split it up. This would also let you go after the one with the most money (or the only one you can get contact information on). 

In reality, it usually isn't worth the hassle. Yes, you will probably win in court. But actually seeing any money ever is a long shot. People who don't pay rent usually don't have much money and don't have good credit to begin with. This is why screening tenants is so important. Trying to get money from broke people who probably can't keep up with the rent at the place they're renting now is not worth the stress, time, and frustration on your part.
TempeLandlord

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #5 
Thanks.. soo true..winning and getting the money are 2 different things.
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