How do I collect rent from an evicted sublessee?
Sublessors are always on the hook to the landlord if the sublessee skips out on the rent. The fact that you expressly stated so in your contract is just redundant, and didn’t hurt you any extra. It doesn’t sound like the landlord delayed excessively long in informing you, but it’s hard to tell. The fact that they have found a new tenant probably speaks to the fact that they engaged in good-faith mitigation of damages, but who knows (this is for a court to decide if you want to attempt to sue the landlord). If you receive a court judgement for the amount due against the sublessor (which in all probability you will), it is the state marshall/sheriff who will do the actual collection. If the sublessor has left the state, you will have to send a copy of the judgement to the marshall/sheriff’s office in the sublessee’s current state of residence to get them to enforce the judgement. Contact your local lawyer or marshall/sheriff for details.
IAAL, but not in Wis. This advice is not legal advice and is worth what you’re paying for it. You probably can get the unpaid rent from the subtenant, based on your sublease agreement — if you can find him and if he has any money. On the other hand, if the sublease is illegal, the courts leave you where they find you. If the landlord agreed to the sublease, or there is a clause in your lease permitting subletting, the landlord should be able to recover from the subtenant, but you’ll almost always remain on the hook. You may not be able to go into small claims court, but instead have to file a full-fledged (meaning expensive, with a lawyer) lawsuit. Local statutes vary on what kinds of claims the small claims court can hear. Typically, they’re for sale of goods contracts, but some states let you recover for other kinds of claims. The best place to check is with the small claims court clerk’s office. Remember also that the subtenant may not respond to the small claims court summons. You
Goofyy, I’m responsible because the subleasing contract that the sublessee and I signed says that I’m ultimately responsible. There was a $100 subleasing fee, but I think that was to cover the cost of meeting with their lawyer, preparing the paperwork, etc. There is a tenant’s resource center in Madison – I’ll probably contact them today.
IANAL, nor play one on TV However, it seems very strange to me that the sublessee was not paying rent to YOU. If the rental company was collecting the rent, how is it you are responsible? When they chose to collect rent and latter, evict the sublessee, they stepped in to the matter between you and the sublessee. It wouldn’t surprise me if they must then accept some responsibility themselves. Most especially as they did not notify you of the situation. This would be dictated by the terms of your lease and the Wisconsin laws governing such situations. I never had to deal with subletting in Wisconsin, so I’m clueless. But the laws in general are slanted against landlords in favor of tenants (I’ve been both in Wisconsin). I do wonder, did you effectively pay any sort of fee to the rental company for “managing” the sublease for you? This sounds like what they were doing, since they collected the rent and evicted your tenant.