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posted: 1/10/2010 12:01 AM

Tenant disappears, leaving landlord in the lurch

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Q. I was renting my condominium to a guy, who just disappeared after about four months. After I got the place rented again, I tracked the guy down and filed a lawsuit against him, on my own, for the four months that I lost. I got a judgment against the guy for about $3,500.

How do I collect on the judgment? The judge said something about filing "supplementary proceedings" but I have no idea what he was talking about. The guy now lives with his parents. Am I just out the $3,500?

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A. The first thing you should do is go back to the judge who issued the judgment and obtain a "Memorandum of Judgment". The form can probably be obtained from the circuit clerk's Web site. Complete the form, have the judge sign it and record it in the county the judgment was obtained. If the debtor is now living in a different county, record the memorandum in that county also.

Although recording a Memorandum of Judgment won't directly result in the satisfaction of the judgment, it is very possible it will lead to payment of the judgment down the road. In the future, your ex-tenant may wish to buy a house or finance a car and that memorandum will be a mark on his credit he may be required to resolve. That's when you get paid.

Otherwise, the easiest ways to collect on a judgment are to garnish wages and lien real estate. Although it appears he does not own any real estate, does he have a job? If so, these are the proceedings the judge was referring to. If you file the appropriate forms, pay the fees and have his employer served, subject to other garnishments, you will receive 15 percent of his salary directly from his employer until your judgment is paid.

There are other methods of collecting judgments. Speak to an attorney familiar with collections.

My husband and I have been served with a foreclosure complaint. We agree that we have not paid our mortgage for a few months, but we totally disagree with the amount the mortgage company says we owe. We may have a way of paying off the mortgage through a loan from a relative but we need to straighten out the amount owed. We have gotten nowhere so far. Any suggestions?

A. Once a property is in foreclosure, the process of obtaining a payoff amount differs from lender to lender. Some mortgage companies require you work through the law firm handling the foreclosure. Some lenders handle the payoff issue themselves. Step one is to determine how your lender handles payoffs.

Once you determine where you need to go, request a payoff statement. It may take more than one call, but be persistent. You are entitled to a payoff statement.

Once you receive the statement, compare it to your records. The reason the amount in the complaint is greater than what you believe you owe can be attributable to any combination of the following: accrued interest, real estate taxes paid, attorneys fees, late fees and/or other foreclosure charges.

Check the last statement you received while you were current. Note the principal balance at that time and compare it to the charges on the complaint. There is a good chance the principal balances will be consistent.

Also, be aware that you have a statutory right on residential real estate to reinstate the mortgage within 90 days of being served and to redeem the mortgage within the later of three months from the date of judgment or seven months from the date you were served with the complaint. Reinstating a mortgage means paying all the mortgage arrearages and costs incurred by the lender and then continuing on as you were before falling behind. Redeeming a mortgage means paying off the entire balance due, including fees and costs incurred during the foreclosure proceedings.

•Send your questions to Attorney Tom Resnick, 345 N. Quentin Road, Palatine IL 60067, by e-mail to tdr100@hotmail.com or call (847) 359-8983.

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