What do you do if the tenant in the apartment or house you’re leasing doesn’t pay? Do you need some sort of tool to claim the rent from defaulting tenants, saving time and money for both lawyers and condominium administrators while simplifying legal procedures? Well, now it exists and it’s called Legal24.online. Born from an idea by Tito Zanfagna, it was created by Roberto Silva's MMM Group and is available 24 hours a day, even on mobile devices, but only in Italian.
Non-payment of rents – is the recession to blame?
"The issue of not paying the rent is very important,” explains Legal24.online’s Maurizio Melzi, interviewed by idealista/news. “It is estimated that every year in Italy, unpaid rentals amount to 1.2 billion euro. These are conservative estimates, based on homeowners and landlords reporting at least one month's payment skipped in a period of 12 months.”
Is the economic crisis to blame? Not really. According to Melzi, it’s quite the contrary, with those who feel threatened by the crisis tending to pay more punctually, not wanting to lose the roof over their heads. "If there are delays in paying the rent,” says Melzi, “often it is because the tenants put off the time to settle their accounts, living in debt as a simple postponement of payments.”
Debt recovery: a cumbersome process to simplify
This creates a lot of inconvenience to those who deal with debt collection, primarily because of the delays due to poor communication between the owner, who doesn’t always know the law, the manager of the condo, who is forced to anticipate the costs of the proceedings against the defaulting debtor, and the lawyer who wastes a lot of time in handling the legal procedures for reminders for payments and, possibly, for the recovery of the debt.
Legal24.online: how it works
"Legal24.online was created precisely to save time and money for everyone, making sharing of data and official communications as automated as possible,” says Maurizio Melzi. “Here's how it works: the condominium administrator logs in and, after making a payment (very small, less than 30 euro per arrear), gets the electronic access keys. Using the simple dashboard, they enter information about the condominium and the details of those that are late with payments.
“Once the process is started, the lawyer receives an email on their dashboard, validates the first automatically-generated reminder letter and sends it off. If the debt is not paid, the second reminder will start automatically, without the administrator having to remember it or communicate it to the lawyer. If there is still no action from the defaulting tenant, the lawyer will initiate the court proceedings.”
Another advantage of the system is the fact that the initial payment, which the condominium administrator must pay when starting the process (and which would usually be taken from the condominium’s funds), is instead taken over by La Scala, a debt collection company that has agreed to collaborate on the project. This just removes one more concern for all those living in the condominium who do pay on time, as well as to the administrator.
Stingy tenants: mediation just got easier
"It is not, however, a punitive instrument,” Melzi points out. “Indeed, through this system you can start a process of mediation that is often never started, because of reluctance from the owners of the house to consult a lawyer. Instead, it is possible to automatically establish contact with the defaulting tenant to agree a debt repayment plan with them. What interests us is not to punish, but to recover the money through an innovative Legal Tech tool, to help smooth the process with regard to these uncollected fees which often create problems even for professionals.
“This new online tool serves to simplify a long and difficult legal process, saving a lot of time and stress for everyone involved. Proceedings that used to take up to a year have now been reduced to about three months. It’s true that the lawyers earn less (it's only a small fee for each condominium that subscribes to the scheme), but for them saving time is priceless.”