Q: My wife owns a home that we would prefer to sell, but is a rental property at the moment.
The renter has informed us that she has bought a new house and will be leaving at the beginning of February so she will not be giving her 30-day notice and she does not intend to pay anything for January.
A friend suggested that we put a lien on the new house so she won’t be able to close on the house until she pays us. The rent is $1,700. Is that worth the amount of lawyers fees it would cost to do all that? Do you have any suggestions?
A: If you want to hold her up, you can sue her in small claims court. That lawsuit might appear on her credit history, but at the very least, she’ll be required to disclose it to her lender. That may throw enough of a kink in her plans that she’ll want to be a little more of an upstanding citizen and pay you what she owes.
To apply the maximum amount of pressure, you’ll have to move quickly. Even if it doesn’t delay her closing, she’ll still have to answer you in small claims court. If you win a judgment against her, you may be able to collect, or at least hound her a little.
As far as placing a lien on the home she intends on purchasing, you’d have to talk to an attorney. You probably have no right to place a lien on that other home unless your tenant owned the home and you had a court judgment for the money she owes you.
Finally, did you collect a security deposit? If you don’t get anything else from her, and you don’t feel like suing her, at least you’ll have that.