Virginia Landlord Disputes: Getting Your Money

Let’s say you have gone through the eviction process and have been granted a judgment from the court saying that your tenant owes you for rent, late charges and/or damage to the property. Money will not necessarily immediately be deposited into your bank account. Many times, tenants will refuse to pay a judgment after the case is over. This can often lead to a frustrating series of events where you will not be able to pay for the damage done to your property.

So how do you get the money the judge said you were entitled to? This is a process known as collections, and it can be a very complicated process. Virginia law creates a specific procedure for obtaining money that is owed to you from a court case. These procedures include, but are not limited to, forcing the other party to identify their assets, taking money from their paycheck, taking money from their bank accounts, and even forcing them to sell personal property.

So how does that process work, and what do you need to know?

How to Find Assets

The first step in the process is figuring out the best way to collect from the opposing party. Some people have money sitting in their bank accounts and receive very little from their wages. Other people do not save money and instead live paycheck to paycheck. Finally, some people have a lot of fancy personal belongings but no bank account or wages to speak of.

In order to determine the best way to collect against the other party, you need to learn of their assets. This is accomplished through a process known as “debtor interrogatories.” In Virginia, you can force the other party to come to court and testify, under oath, as to the location and nature of any of their assets. This is a valuable tool, and it can save time and money of filing to take a non-existent bank account.

There are several other methods for finding assets that a good attorney will have at their disposal.

How to Take Money From Wages

If you find out that the other party is making a lot of money, it may be worth filing what is known as a “wage garnishment.” This procedure allows you to force their employer to withhold money from the opposing party’s paycheck and submit it to the court.

However, some people do not earn enough. There are laws in Virginia which limit the amount of disposable income you are allowed to garnish.

How to Take Money From a Bank Account

If you find out the other party is keeping a lot of money in their bank accounts, then the next step may be to file a “bank garnishment.” This procedure lets you force a bank to identify the accounts that the other party holds and the amount of money in the account. Some of the dangers of this process include limitations on taking money from joint accounts, or limitations on taking social security income.

How To Force The Sale of Personal Property

Finally, you can force the other party to sell assets that are worth a lot of money to pay their bills. If they have a massive 70-inch television they use to watch the super bowl, you may be able to force them to sell that property. This is done through a process known as a “writ of fieri facias.” However, there are limits on the types of personal property that can be taken.

Why You Need A Collections Lawyer

You should hire a lawyer to help you navigate your way through the collections process. There are many notice requirements and filing requirements, as well as time requirements, for collecting on a judgment. Most collections attorneys will take these cases on contingency if it is a high enough value. Seek out a local attorney if you are looking to collect.