Portland, OR asked in Collections, Landlord - Tenant and Small Claims for Oregon

Q: Filing a claim against a co-signer who ran away without my knowledge. Not living in the same place.

I'm trying to settle a dispute between a person I co-signed an apartment with. Well, it's more like I signed myself with her, so she can have a place to stay by herself since she has bad credit. I offered to pay the initial monthly rent plus fees, so she can move in as soon as possible. Fast forward to 7 months later, I got a call from a collection agency saying that the tenant ran away, neglecting payment for about 3 months, and demanding what was owed. I had no choice but to pay since I wouldn't want to ruin my credit.

Including the initial monthly payment plus fees, and the money I've paid to the agency, that total to about $6,000.00. I would like to get that money back. I have documents of the payments and screenshots of attempts to contact her over the months. This is the first time I ever have to do this. What would be the best course of action? Small claims? Civil claim?

1 Lawyer Answer
Gregory L Abbott
Gregory L Abbott
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Portland, OR
  • Licensed in Oregon

A: The burden of proof will be on you to show that she owes you the money but yes, either small claims or regular court are you options. If you start in small claims court, she will then have the choice to remove it to regular circuit court or to let it stay in small claims court. If you start in circuit court, it stays there - she has no choice. The real question is whether you can collect from her even if you win in court and get a Judgment against her. If you think yes, then it may be worth the cost up front and the risk. But if not, you would essentially be throwing good money after bad. In the end, there are no guarantees. You simply make your best guess and go from there. Good luck.

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