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Handling Rent Debt Collections


arrogant
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Hi All--

 

Quick question on how to handle a rent debt collection that I don't actually agree with.

 

Short backstory is a little over 2 years ago my former partner and I were asked to vacate the apartment (due to mental illness).  We each separately packed up and left as requested by the landlords.  6 months later there a reporting of bad debt showed up on Experian I believe saying I owed 20k to apartment owner (though it did not effect my score).  I followed some steps, wrote Experian and it was deleted.  Thought it was settled.

 

 I recently got a credit alert saying I had an account in collections.  I pulled my credit report and it as showing up as Fair Collections and Outsourcing.  Googled the name and sure enough they are a collections agency for rentals.  I am guessing the account was sold from the major national landlord to them.

 

How do I get this off my credit report?  It doesn't seem like it is effecting my score, but how do I get rid of it?  I don't want to go into the whole situation, but I wholeheartedly disagree with the collections in the first place.  Also how is rent placed on my credit report?  Should I write Experian again?  I am in NYC if this matters.  

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The rent was like 5500 a month (that's NYC for ya).  I believe we had about 4 months left on the lease thought the likelihood of a place staying vacant in NYC that long is slim.  I left the place immaculate (partner was incapacitated at the time).  There is no lawsuit from the landlord they are trying to collect on, we were never evicted and left at their request.  I feel like I should just write the credit bureaus and dispute the record?  

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35 minutes ago, arrogant said:

The rent was like 5500 a month (that's NYC for ya).  I believe we had about 4 months left on the lease thought the likelihood of a place staying vacant in NYC that long is slim.  I left the place immaculate (partner was incapacitated at the time).  There is no lawsuit from the landlord they are trying to collect on, we were never evicted and left at their request.  I feel like I should just write the credit bureaus and dispute the record?  

 

Since you left at their request, without all the evictions games, by chance did you get a letter from your then landlord that you and the landlord were parting ways on what you both verbally agreed too?

 

I've heard stories that NYC landlords play crazy games on current and former tenants.

 

I agree that you shouldn't pay a dime, much less have to deal with a collection agency.

 

Hopefully someone will chime in on how to specifically handle the credit bureaus.

 

Too anyone who stumbles across this thread with the same or similer issue, what's in writing is what matters. Handshakes and verbal conversations don't mean squat when the law and credit bureaus are concerned. Your feelings don't apply either.

Edited by TheVig
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Unfortunately no letter.  It was a trying time, life of 15 years was crumbling, worried for my safety, worried for partner, etc.  A collection was the last thing I was thinking of.  I piece I forgot to add is that the apartment originally tried to collect money from both of us back 3-4 months after I vacated the unit.  My ex hired an attorney who fired off a letter to the apartment complex alleging illegal eviction, discrimination, etc (I still have this letter).  After that letter all collection attempts from the complex itself seemed to be dropped until something popped up on my credit report several months later which I had successfully removed.  Now like I said 2 years later this CA is coming after me and I imagine her as well.    The final words from the attorney in her letter to the landlord were:

 

"

You terminated my clients' tenancy on November 1, 2019, which means that you evicted my clients. My clients do not owe you any money. There was no landlord-tenant relationship after November 1, 2019. My clients did not "holdover" after their tenancy was terminated.

If you continue to harass my clients, I have advised them to file a complaint against with you with the New York State Attorney General and file a discrimination complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights and HUD."

 

 

Edited by arrogant
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I'll suggest that the credit report entry is a secondary concern. 

 

There's no question that the apartment complex is attempting to collect on a debt that they believe to be legitimate.  My guess is that they attempted to notify you of the debt at the time it was assessed but assert that they didn't have accurate contact information at hand.  If the debt itself isn't addressed, their next step will be to seek a court judgement against you and, once granted, will move to attach your wages, your assets, or any other means by which to recover the amount declared owed.

 

I would advise that you get in contact with them and suss this out.  You can worry about the credit report hit later; this is the thing that's likely to punch you in the gut hardest.  The best route to that contact is likely again an attorney intermediary (potentially the one previously engaged by your ex).

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They did assert the debt was owed to our attorney in a response to the original letter.  The attorney then responded with the statement above.  Nothing happened from the landlord after that.

 

Im very worried about this on my report as I will likely need to get a new apartment in the next few months.  Shouldn't I just fight the credit report first and then fight the judgement if and when it comes?  I am less concerned about the court case because honestly, we have an extremely good case imo (especially with how tenant friendly NYC is).

Edited by arrogant
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26 minutes ago, arrogant said:

They did assert the debt was owed to our attorney in a response to the original letter.  The attorney then responded with the statement above.  Nothing happened from the landlord after that.

 

Im very worried about this on my report as I will likely need to get a new apartment in the next few months.  Shouldn't I just fight the credit report first and then fight the judgement if and when it comes?  I am less concerned about the court case because honestly, we have an extremely good case imo (especially with how tenant friendly NYC is).

 

FCO does not sue.  They do poison credit reports, are extremely stubborn and do NOT do pay for delete.

 

Your situation is very different and a tenant friendly state.  I would file the complaint with the NYC Housing Authority, go back to the attorney who sent the letter(s) and hire them to go straight to lawsuit.  My complaint to housing would include that the landlord asked you to leave and in exchange for doing so he agreed not to pursue the remaining lease amount.  I would demand he show when it was re-rented because under NYC law he is required to mitigate his damages and given the demand for housing it didn't sit empty long.  My guess is he is trying to double dip by collecting rent from the replacing tenants and you.  Unfortunately letters at this stage will not motivate him but a lawsuit certainly will.  

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40 minutes ago, CreditSucksNot said:

 

FCO does not sue.  They do poison credit reports, are extremely stubborn and do NOT do pay for delete.

 

Your situation is very different and a tenant friendly state.  I would file the complaint with the NYC Housing Authority, go back to the attorney who sent the letter(s) and hire them to go straight to lawsuit.  My complaint to housing would include that the landlord asked you to leave and in exchange for doing so he agreed not to pursue the remaining lease amount.  I would demand he show when it was re-rented because under NYC law he is required to mitigate his damages and given the demand for housing it didn't sit empty long.  My guess is he is trying to double dip by collecting rent from the replacing tenants and you.  Unfortunately letters at this stage will not motivate him but a lawsuit certainly will.  

Thanks helpful.  Do you think FCO owns the debt or is just collecting?  BTW.  This is not some small guy, the landlord is equity residential.  Multibillion dollar publicly traded company.  Should we file against them or FCO?  Should I at least dispute it with CRA and CA?  This way maybe at the bare minimum it shows up on my credit report as being disputed?  Really trying to get an apartment within the next 3 months.  This has me worried.

 

Also it looks like I can't file a complaint now since it has been over a year.  

Edited by arrogant
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Maybe this is why they haven't sued.

 

https://nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/housing/startingcase.shtml

 

Requirements for a Nonpayment Petition

1. The petition must be brought by a person who has a right to recover the property. This may be a landlord, a primary tenant, a roommate who holds a lease in his or her name, an estate, etc.
2. The respondent must be identified. This is done by providing the name of the respondent, although there might be unidentified undertenants who are styled as John and/or Jane Does.
3. The nature of the agreement by which the respondent entered into the tenancy must be provided. This could be a lease or a month to month tenancy, and must have some specificity as to when it began.
4. The amount of rent to be collected as well as the day on which the rent is to be paid.
5. The location of the premises. The petition must be brought in the county where the building is located.
6. There must be a specific allegation as to the rent due. This normally requires that the amounts due for each rental period be specified. If any other money is due, say for taxes as "additional rent," or for late or attorney fees, these must be itemized separately and totaled.
7. There must be an allegation as to the rent demand, either that it was oral, or in writing. If in writing, the demand and an affidavit of service may be submitted to the court.
8. There must be an allegation that the respondent continues to occupy the premises. If the respondent has left the premises, a nonpayment proceeding may not be maintained.
9. There must be a statement that either the premises are not subject to rent regulation, and the reason; or, that the premises are subject to rent regulation, and the kind of rent regulation that applies.
10. The petition must specify whether the premises is a multiple dwelling or not. If it is, the name and address of the managing agent and the multiple dwelling registration must be supplied. See Finding the Multiple Dwelling Registration Information.
11. There must be a clause specifying the relief requested. This normally must state whether the premises is used by the respondent as a residence or not, the amount of money for which judgment is requested, and the interest date, if interest is sought, as well as a request that the judgment be granted and a warrant of eviction be issued.
12. The petition must be signed by the petitioner.
13. The petition must be verified. The verification may be made by different persons on behalf of the petitioner, or by the petitioner him or herself if a natural person. The verification must be affirmed or sworn to and notarized.

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Edited by legaleagle2012
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19 hours ago, arrogant said:

The rent was like 5500 a month (that's NYC for ya).  I believe we had about 4 months left on the lease thought the likelihood of a place staying vacant in NYC that long is slim.  I left the place immaculate (partner was incapacitated at the time).  There is no lawsuit from the landlord they are trying to collect on, we were never evicted and left at their request.  I feel like I should just write the credit bureaus and dispute the record?  

In years past, it would reasonably be presumed that a unit would have quickly been re-let.  HOWEVER, it sounds like this occurred just before Cuomo and DiBlasio cratered the city.  Thus, some of the tried and true guidance may be inapplicable to your situation (or anyone in that era) where a lease was terminated prior to the end of the full term. 

 

Your original Agreement on the lease will speak to obligations by ALL parties in the event of a termination prior to the expiration of the full term.  What language exists in that regard? 

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17 hours ago, arrogant said:

Thanks helpful.  Do you think FCO owns the debt or is just collecting?  BTW.  This is not some small guy, the landlord is equity residential.  Multibillion dollar publicly traded company.  Should we file against them or FCO?  Should I at least dispute it with CRA and CA?  This way maybe at the bare minimum it shows up on my credit report as being disputed?  Really trying to get an apartment within the next 3 months.  This has me worried.

 

Also it looks like I can't file a complaint now since it has been over a year.  

 

FCO doesn't typically buy these debts they only report them and collect on behalf of the landlords.  You file against the landlord.  They are the ones claiming you owe the money.  FCO just represents them.  Though you could name both and let them throw each other under the bus.  Depends on how plucky you feel.

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