The internet is a treasure trove of information waiting to be found. It’s just a matter of how to find the information you are looking for. I want to share some of my personal favorite places to go hunting for information on people that I am trying to locate. If you cannot locate former tenants, you can’t collect from them.
County Court Website. A great place to start when trying to locate a former tenant is the local court’s website. Here in Columbus that would be the Franklin County Municipal Court’s website. I also use the Franklin County Common Pleas Court’s website as well. Both websites allow you to search for people by name. When you do a search on either website, it will pull up any court cases associated with that name. Each court case provides an address for the person you have searched. If it’s been several years or several months since you’ve last been in contact with your former tenant then the court’s website may provide you with a case involving the tenant that has occurred recently. With that case, a new and more recent address will be provided. If a garnishment has occurred on the tenant, you will also be able to find out the tenant’s employment at the time of the garnishment. A recent address and employment information are two crucial pieces of information when a landlord is trying to collect from a former tenant.
When I search for someone on the local court’s website, I don’t restrict my search to one county. I’ll search neighboring counties as well in case the tenant has moved out of Franklin County and into Delaware County, for example. Almost all county courts in Ohio have websites that allow any member of the general public to look up court information on other people. A landlord should use this information not only to find former tenants but to research potential tenants and determine what their legal history has been prior to renting to them.
I should repeat that last sentence because it is worth the price of admission alone:
A landlord should use this information not only to find former tenants but to research potential tenants and determine what their legal history has been prior to renting to them.
Do this and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and heartache. Any case that has the letters “CVG” in the case number is an eviction case.
Landlords can also follow any current case that the landlord is involved in by using the same websites. If you are looking for an update on an eviction matter that your attorney filed, simply go to the county court website and type in your name, the name of your real estate company, or the name of your tenant and you will find a complete history of the case for your review.
LinkedIn.com I am often trying to locate the current employment history of a tenant so that I can garnish their wages for unpaid rent and damages to a rental premises. I love LinkedIn for the purpose. LinkedIn is a site dedicated to business networking. It facilitates referrals among businesses. It also acts as a portal for employers and potential employees to find each other. If you are looking for a job or if an employer is looking for someone like you, you can post your current employment, past employment history, qualifications, experience and education online. Users of LinkedIn have an interest in keeping their information up to date so that they can provide their full qualifications to potential employers in the hope of obtaining the best job possible. Users of LinkedIn may not realize that their current employment information is also extremely valuable to creditors and may unwittingly be entertaining views from much more than potential employers.
Facebook I don’t use Facebook myself but I keep a username and password simply so I can use it to locate other people. Of course, with all the privacy issues that Facebook has experienced, users of the service are becoming more and more private in how they communicate things. With that said, there are still plenty of people who share just about everything and anything with the world. Read through someone’s wall for just a short while and you will stumble across some complaint concerning their employment or even their current landlord. And you also never know when Zuckerberg is going unilaterally reset everyone’s privacy settings and for a short time reveal all of their facebook information.
Hopefully these websites provide you with a start on locating your former tenant for the purpose of debt collection as well as a start on how to use the internet to locate people. This is not intended as an exhaustive list but provides you with an example of some of the information that is at your fingertips.