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Sent to Collections without Prior Notification

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shala546
Valued Member

Sent to Collections without Prior Notification

Hello all,

 

I am so upset right now. My credit score dropped 16 points for an apartment collections. I am unaware that there was ever a balance. I pay my bills on time and I moved out of the apartment when my lease was over.They did a walk through and everything. One year later, I get a hit on my credit and I didn't even know that there was a balance. No call, no letter. What do I do? How can I get this removed? I am in the process of buying a house.This has hurt my chances of becoming a homeowner. Am I stuck with this debt? How can they send a debt to collection without prior notification?

Message 1 of 4
3 REPLIES 3
JoeRockhead
Senior Contributor

Re: Sent to Collections without Prior Notification

Unfortunately a creditor doesn't have to notify you prior to sending a debt to collections. However, the collection agency is required by law to validate the debt and notify you in writing of the debt within 30 days of contacting you. If you haven't already, I would first contact the landlord and ask for a detailed account of what the charges are for and how they came to the figure they say you owe. I'd do the same with the collection agency. You can file disputes with the credit bureaus as well as a complaint with the CFPB if the collection agency has failed to contact you, or notify you properly which is a violation of the FDCPA.

 

Also might be worth your time to contact a local attorney that handles debt collections.

Message 2 of 4
Cowboys4Life
Frequent Contributor

Re: Sent to Collections without Prior Notification

As the other response said, unfortunately they are not required to notify you before posting a collection to the bureaus.  Some creditors do to allow a consumer to pay and avoid the hit but it isn't required.

 

First, did you leave a forwarding address with the leasing office or property owner?  Second, was there a deposit and did you get it back?

 

Start by calling the leasing office and finding out what exactly this debt is for and when they notified you in writing within the 30 days and to what address.  Ask why they did not disclose any damages they are claiming on the walk through on [date] that you were present for.  Follow it up with a letter sent certified mail confirming your conversation.  Most if not all states require a landlord notify you in writing within 30 days of vacating of any damages owed and their intent to keep some or all of the deposit.  Failure to do that means they not only owe the deposit but in most states 2-3 times that amount in punitive damages.

 

DO NOT mention that you are applying for a mortgage.  That shifts leverage to them.  Here are some trumped up damages to watch out for:

  • carpet (they claim pet damage or other wear and tear but neglect to mention that the carpet was already over 5 years old when you moved in or worse older)  they are entitled to PRORATED funds for actual damage the tenant caused NOT full replacement value.
  • blinds (they charge $25-50 per window but spend $5 at WalMart if they even replaced them)
  • cleaning charges when you left it broom clean as required in all states and charged a cleaning fee for move out at the start of the lease
  • painting and patching.  A landlord patching nail holes from picture hanging and painting after a tenant is considered normal wear and tear for a rental home NOT damage
  • many times a landlord will claim egregious damages as an attempt to get a former tenant to pay for an actual renovation and upgrade so the landlord doesn't have to 

When I moved out of my corporate run apartment 3 years ago after buying a house they suddenly wanted over $2k in "damages".  Fortunately I had kept detailed pictures (they didn't do a personal walk through because of covidiocy) of every room, left not one item behind and had the copy of my move in inspection form I had turned in 2 years earlier when I first occupied the unit.  One "damage" the manager was claiming was yellowing and fading on the garden tub until I pointed out on the move-in inspection I had listed it.  I also demanded to know when the tub was installed, last time it was re-surfaced, and the costs involved.  She backed off that REALLY fast.  Same thing when I challenged her alleged carpet "damage".  I demanded to know the brand of the carpet, when it was installed, cost of purchase and install and the half life of that brand.  Suddenly there was no serious carpet damage but she wanted a carpet cleaning fee until I produced a receipt showing I had the carpets professionally cleaned by a well known local company on move-out and that they had refused my lease provided for annual carpet cleaning due to "covid".

 

If they don't back down (and probably won't) when you challenge this then you are going to have to fight.  I have had one landlord in my entire rental life history that ignored my demands to know what the damages were when the simply didn't return the deposit.  I filed in small claims court and sought triple damages under the state law and they quickly gave me back my deposit in exchange for my dropping the suit.  If the debt is not legitimate and they won't play ball then file the small claims suit.   They will settle then and your demand is they delete that collection and mark the file as disputed and closed.  PERIOD.

Message 3 of 4
shala546
Valued Member

Re: Sent to Collections without Prior Notification

Thank you so much. I too have pictures and a video of how I left the apartment. i will fight them in court because they failed to send me any correspondence and yes, I left a forwordin address and phone number.


@Cowboys4Life wrote:

As the other response said, unfortunately they are not required to notify you before posting a collection to the bureaus.  Some creditors do to allow a consumer to pay and avoid the hit but it isn't required.

 

First, did you leave a forwarding address with the leasing office or property owner?  Second, was there a deposit and did you get it back?

 

Start by calling the leasing office and finding out what exactly this debt is for and when they notified you in writing within the 30 days and to what address.  Ask why they did not disclose any damages they are claiming on the walk through on [date] that you were present for.  Follow it up with a letter sent certified mail confirming your conversation.  Most if not all states require a landlord notify you in writing within 30 days of vacating of any damages owed and their intent to keep some or all of the deposit.  Failure to do that means they not only owe the deposit but in most states 2-3 times that amount in punitive damages.

 

DO NOT mention that you are applying for a mortgage.  That shifts leverage to them.  Here are some trumped up damages to watch out for:

  • carpet (they claim pet damage or other wear and tear but neglect to mention that the carpet was already over 5 years old when you moved in or worse older)  they are entitled to PRORATED funds for actual damage the tenant caused NOT full replacement value.
  • blinds (they charge $25-50 per window but spend $5 at WalMart if they even replaced them)
  • cleaning charges when you left it broom clean as required in all states and charged a cleaning fee for move out at the start of the lease
  • painting and patching.  A landlord patching nail holes from picture hanging and painting after a tenant is considered normal wear and tear for a rental home NOT damage
  • many times a landlord will claim egregious damages as an attempt to get a former tenant to pay for an actual renovation and upgrade so the landlord doesn't have to 

When I moved out of my corporate run apartment 3 years ago after buying a house they suddenly wanted over $2k in "damages".  Fortunately I had kept detailed pictures (they didn't do a personal walk through because of covidiocy) of every room, left not one item behind and had the copy of my move in inspection form I had turned in 2 years earlier when I first occupied the unit.  One "damage" the manager was claiming was yellowing and fading on the garden tub until I pointed out on the move-in inspection I had listed it.  I also demanded to know when the tub was installed, last time it was re-surfaced, and the costs involved.  She backed off that REALLY fast.  Same thing when I challenged her alleged carpet "damage".  I demanded to know the brand of the carpet, when it was installed, cost of purchase and install and the half life of that brand.  Suddenly there was no serious carpet damage but she wanted a carpet cleaning fee until I produced a receipt showing I had the carpets professionally cleaned by a well known local company on move-out and that they had refused my lease provided for annual carpet cleaning due to "covid".

 

If they don't back down (and probably won't) when you challenge this then you are going to have to fight.  I have had one landlord in my entire rental life history that ignored my demands to know what the damages were when the simply didn't return the deposit.  I filed in small claims court and sought triple damages under the state law and they quickly gave me back my deposit in exchange for my dropping the suit.  If the debt is not legitimate and they won't play ball then file the small claims suit.   They will settle then and your demand is they delete that collection and mark the file as disputed and closed.  PERIOD.



@Cowboys4Life wrote:

As the other response said, unfortunately they are not required to notify you before posting a collection to the bureaus.  Some creditors do to allow a consumer to pay and avoid the hit but it isn't required.

 

First, did you leave a forwarding address with the leasing office or property owner?  Second, was there a deposit and did you get it back?

 

Start by calling the leasing office and finding out what exactly this debt is for and when they notified you in writing within the 30 days and to what address.  Ask why they did not disclose any damages they are claiming on the walk through on [date] that you were present for.  Follow it up with a letter sent certified mail confirming your conversation.  Most if not all states require a landlord notify you in writing within 30 days of vacating of any damages owed and their intent to keep some or all of the deposit.  Failure to do that means they not only owe the deposit but in most states 2-3 times that amount in punitive damages.

 

DO NOT mention that you are applying for a mortgage.  That shifts leverage to them.  Here are some trumped up damages to watch out for:

  • carpet (they claim pet damage or other wear and tear but neglect to mention that the carpet was already over 5 years old when you moved in or worse older)  they are entitled to PRORATED funds for actual damage the tenant caused NOT full replacement value.
  • blinds (they charge $25-50 per window but spend $5 at WalMart if they even replaced them)
  • cleaning charges when you left it broom clean as required in all states and charged a cleaning fee for move out at the start of the lease
  • painting and patching.  A landlord patching nail holes from picture hanging and painting after a tenant is considered normal wear and tear for a rental home NOT damage
  • many times a landlord will claim egregious damages as an attempt to get a former tenant to pay for an actual renovation and upgrade so the landlord doesn't have to 

When I moved out of my corporate run apartment 3 years ago after buying a house they suddenly wanted over $2k in "damages".  Fortunately I had kept detailed pictures (they didn't do a personal walk through because of covidiocy) of every room, left not one item behind and had the copy of my move in inspection form I had turned in 2 years earlier when I first occupied the unit.  One "damage" the manager was claiming was yellowing and fading on the garden tub until I pointed out on the move-in inspection I had listed it.  I also demanded to know when the tub was installed, last time it was re-surfaced, and the costs involved.  She backed off that REALLY fast.  Same thing when I challenged her alleged carpet "damage".  I demanded to know the brand of the carpet, when it was installed, cost of purchase and install and the half life of that brand.  Suddenly there was no serious carpet damage but she wanted a carpet cleaning fee until I produced a receipt showing I had the carpets professionally cleaned by a well known local company on move-out and that they had refused my lease provided for annual carpet cleaning due to "covid".

 

If they don't back down (and probably won't) when you challenge this then you are going to have to fight.  I have had one landlord in my entire rental life history that ignored my demands to know what the damages were when the simply didn't return the deposit.  I filed in small claims court and sought triple damages under the state law and they quickly gave me back my deposit in exchange for my dropping the suit.  If the debt is not legitimate and they won't play ball then file the small claims suit.   They will settle then and your demand is they delete that collection and mark the file as disputed and closed.  PERIOD.


 

Message 4 of 4
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