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Collection agency, what would you?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
So at the beginning of the week my husband received a call from a collection agency stating that we owed $1800 for breaking our lease at our old townhouse--over 18 months ago.

This is true we broke our lease in April 2008 and it said in our lease agreement that we would only owe if the landlord was unable to re-rent the property. So we went back there today and knocked on the door of our place to see how long the person had lived there. He reported he moved in on June 15. Which is two weeks before our lease was up, July 1.

Which means we only owe them $1435 or something. However, we were contacted only one time, the week after we moved out and we called about the letter and were told to ignore it as the computer sends it out automatically and that they would call to let us know how it progressed. We never received anymore contact. So we assumed they rented it and we were good. As stated above more than 18 months later we now have been sent to collections for "breaking our lease"' and not paying. The letter we received from collections (that they received from our apt complex) was the same letter we received dated April 3, 2008.

I realize we do owe $1435, but I don't think we should have to pay it to collections or have that on our credit when we weren't contacted more than one time.

Opinions?

Thanks
Leslie
post #2 of 13
How long was the unit empty, and more importantly, can the property owner show that he or she made a reasonable effort to find a tenant during that period? I'm no lawyer, and I don't live in Ohio, but in my state, the property owner has to show that such an effort was made before a court will order the tenant to pay the back rent.

In any case, if I were in your shoes, I would do some research on your state's landlord-tenant laws before paying any part of the bill.
post #3 of 13
Depends on local laws and your lease, in my building you have to pay out the rest of the lease up to a certain number of months (mine is up to 6 months) and the landlord has to make a reasonable attempt to fill the rental spot then I get refunded.

If they sent you a letter, they did inform you of the debt. Do you have it in writing to ignore the letter?
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Here is the issue.

If the letter was sent 3 days after we moved out, they didn't have time to re-rent yet. We don't have anything in writing that they said to ignore said letter. However they are saying they contacted many times after the first letter to collect debt. We received only that one letter 3 days after moving out.

Can you be sent to collections after one contact letter?
post #5 of 13
Contact your small claims court and see if you have any legal options? It seems strange that they sent this bill to collections so early and didn't attempt to collect the debt through other means first. You may end up needing legal representation. It was a real pain when I had cancelled our gas service, but somehow it didn't get cancelled. The people who moved in to my old place lived there without paying gas for six months and eventually I got a collections notice. The collector rep. stated that he honestly didn't care if it was my debt, that he needed to collect the balance. It was such a pain sorting it out, and took a couple of months.
post #6 of 13
That bites...We broke our lease in the last place we lived in but managed to work out an agreement with the landlord that we actually ended up getting money back from them probably because there were plenty of people who wanted to rent the apartment. All that we needed to do was clean the apartment...It also probably helped that my BF had a good relationship with our landlord and had worked all this out with him about 2 months prior to moving.

I hope everything works out for you guys!!!
post #7 of 13
Quick question - was there a deposit on the apartment? Did they keep it until it was re-rented or pay it back? Around here, you have to give first month, last month, and one month security deposit up front - sometimes another 1/2 month or one month as a "pet" deposit - which means that when you leave, they have at least two months rent they have to give back. Did you get your deposit back? Just putting this out there in case you'd forgotten about it, and you don't actually owe them that much.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
part of the deal in breaking your lease you agree to losing your deposit. So technically we owe them 1435 minus 150. Thanks for said reminder.

Leslie
post #9 of 13
The first thing you need to do is send a certified letter to the collection agency stating you must receive a validation of the debt before you proceed. DO NOT show willingness to pay $1435, etc and so on. This is first step. They have 30 days to comply. If they do not, the debt is not valid (legally speaking). Go from there (you need to anyway to see where the balance is coming from. I assume it is from fees and/or interest?)

IMO, you have to be assertive if it is already in collections b/c many of them do not play by the rules, even if your old landlords only made an honest mistake.

Why didn't you pay it after the first letter was rec'd?
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack31 View Post
part of the deal in breaking your lease you agree to losing your deposit. So technically we owe them 1435 minus 150. Thanks for said reminder.

Leslie
Sorry! Certainly didn't mean it as a dig!
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
LDG--I really was thanking you! I don't want to give them anymore than I owe them!!

I spoke with our lawyer (family friend) today. He will be sending a letter this week--that I am drafting informing that we feel we have been incorrectly sent to collections, and that the amount is wrong and what we believe we owe and that if they would like to work it out to please contact our lawyer.

Leslie
post #12 of 13
Hopefully that helps sort everything out quickly
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack31 View Post
LDG--I really was thanking you! I don't want to give them anymore than I owe them!!

I spoke with our lawyer (family friend) today. He will be sending a letter this week--that I am drafting informing that we feel we have been incorrectly sent to collections, and that the amount is wrong and what we believe we owe and that if they would like to work it out to please contact our lawyer.

Leslie
Sorry! It sounded like I reminded you that you were losing the deposit. Can't get it straight!

ANYWAY.... that sounds like a really good idea. It sounds like they aren't really organized, and or are trying to take advantage - and waiting until it's in "collection" sounds like a scare tactic. So this is probably the best idea. you can get it all straightened out without tooo much hassle.
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