Enforcement of civil debt

Suzanne McAllen asks:
(updated on Wednesday, October 04th 2006)

Hi. I had a Property Manager who worked for a local real estate managing my rental properties. She moved a tenant in, who paid no rent, did some damage and then skipped town. The Tenancy Tribunal ruled in our (the Real Estates) favour something around $600. About a month later that real estate closed down and I went to another company's Property Manager, who also offered to try to track down this debtor - nothing happened, and now there's been several staff changes, so I took all the paperwork back to look into it myself. I have a current address for the debtor which I believe to be correct. So I supplied it to the Court Bailiff and never heard anything back despite leaving several messages. When I did get the clerk, she said the Order was in favour of LJ Hookers (now closed), not my name so I had to apply for another court hearing (which I assume costs) and then have an 'examination' (which I think is another $140). Can you tell me if this is the procedure I have to follow, or could I take it to a debt collector to collect on my behalf, even though Order is in the real estate's name. Also do I have to foot the bill, or can the costs be passed on to the debtor. I'm just trying to find the easiest, most cost-effective way to collect the money the Tribunal Tenancy said I (or rather a defunct real estate property managers) was entitled to. Hope you can advise. Many thanks, Suzanne McAllen.

Our Experts Answer:

The information that you received from the Court clerk is correct. If an order is in the name of another creditor, you will not be able to enforce this order, and you will need to reapply to the Tenancy Tribunal. The Collections Unit at the Ministry of Justice can provide you with information on enforcing civil debts through the Courts, free phone 0800 658 952. If you engage the services of a debt collector to collect the debt owing to you once you have obtained an order from the Tribunal in your favour, you will not be able to reclaim the costs of this private debt collection. Useful information on the enforcement of civil debt can also be found at the Ministry of Justice website www.justice.govt.nz/pubs/reports/2004/civil-enforcement/intro.htm

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