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Q: I have a tenant who just moved out, but still owes me over $4,000 in back rent. Also, the cost of turning her unit is approximately $1,500 to $2,000 since she left the apartment in horrible shape. I know I will never receive any money from her since she doesn't have any, so I don't feel it's worthwhile to take her to court.

She also moved to Pennsylvania and is no longer in this area. However, I do want to report her delinquency in her rental payments so that another landlord does not go through what I endured. I tried to contact a collection agency, but can't get anyone to respond to me.

Is there a way that I can report this delinquency so it will show up on her credit report? I don't think I can contact the credit agencies directly to report her. I have not had to deal with this situation before, so I'm hoping to get some advice on the best way to handle it.

A: The best way to make other landlords aware of your previous tenant's poor rental payment history is to sue her in conciliation court since it then becomes a public record.

As I understand it, you believe she has moved from Minnesota to Pennsylvania. Many tenants who are behind on rent tell their landlords they are moving out of state because they believe their landlord will not bother trying to collect the debt if they are no longer in the jurisdiction. Your tenant may still be living in Minnesota.

Even though your tenant doesn't have any money now, she may in the near future, so if you have a judgment against her you will be able to collect on it. There are free services online that can help you find someone's location just by typing in their name and last known address, or just the city and state to see if you can locate her updated address.

If your tenant has actually moved to Pennsylvania, you can still sue her in conciliation court in the county where she rented from you in Minnesota. However, it's difficult to serve your tenant if she has moved out of state and you don't have a forwarding address for her.

Also, the state she moved to could have a different set of rules for this type of action within its jurisdiction. You can also contact the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office at 717-787-3391 to see if they have a reporting system for making landlords aware of tenants with a history of nonpayment of rent. In Minnesota, the Attorney General's Office has a complaint form for tenants to complete in regard to a problem with their landlord, but not a form for landlords to report on their tenants.

Many debt collectors will not pursue tenants over nonpayment of rent for a variety of reasons. There is a process for directly reporting or being a data provider to credit agencies, but it's time-consuming and not inexpensive. Another good resource for you to contact is the Minnesota Multi Housing Association, which is a nonprofit organization at 952-854-8500.

Kelly Klein is a Minneapolis attorney. Participation in this column does not create an attorney/client relationship with Klein. Do not rely on advice in this column for legal opinions. Consult an attorney regarding your particular issues. Email renting questions to Information provided by readers is not confidential.