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Question
My former landlord determined after I moved out that I should pay an additional fee for new carpet to be laid due to my dog. I had paid a dog security deposit and $25 extra each month in rent because I had a dog.
However my main complaint is that even though I had filled out requested paperwork for them with my new address, and also with the post office, I received no notice of owing money to my former landlord. My first awareness of this additional bill was through a phone call from a collection agency!  I was not given a chance to discuss this or pay it prior to it being sent to collection.  When I contacted the former landlord, the lady in the management office said they always send it to collection at the same time they notify the consumer. I told her I did not receive any notification.  I wasn't even aware of the debt and now i'm dealing with a collection agency! Was this handled legally by my former landlord?

Answer
Hello Karen:
Two issues -  Did they handle the retention of the security deposit correctly (including the extra billing, etc.)

and

Was your account referred to collection in accordance with the law.

On the first issue, there is no way that me or anyone else could answer your question without knowing the state that you are living in.   Landlord Tenant laws are different in every state, including the procedure and justification for retention of security deposits.  I would say this though, I suspect that your state law would NOT allow them to make additional charges after the fact.

As for sending it to collection without informing you first -   If you have been informed by someone that they must tell you first before they refer a case for collection, that person is mistaken.    There is no such requirement under the Fair Credit Reporting Act or the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (both federal laws) for you to be given notice first.   

However, this is not to say that you can't do something about this.   If the report they make is inaccurate and if you dispute the report and they don't change or remove it, you may be able to sue them for damages.   I have had a couple cases like that over the past 30 years.    

If you wanted to ask more questions or talk about this further, it would be much easier for me if you just called me on the phone.   I will not charge you just to talk on the phone.    You can call me at this number.   


Jack Hall, J.D.
915  261-3893

Collections Law

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