Real Estate: New York/Default Judgement

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Question
I just found out there is a default judgment against me for not paying rent on a New York City in 2012. This has ruined my credit. I have never lived at that address and have not even lived in New York for over 30 years.

What happened is that my parents lived in that apartment during the 1970s.  I am guessing that they may have listed me as a tenant so I could move in if I needed to live there in case I lost my job.

I really don't know exactly what the paperwork said since I never signed any papers for the apartment. Both parents have been deceased for over 15 years. When the attorney wanted to process an eviction for the most recent tenant in 2012 he simply (and erroneously) just copied all names of anyone listed on all the rental papers going back to the 1970s. Of course, I never answered the eviction service because I never lived there. I was able to get a copy of the most recent lease from the tenant who defaulted in 2012.  She lived there since 2006 and or course, my name is not on the lease.  Now my credit is ruined.

Does the attorney have any legal obligation to correct his mistake. Can I sue the attorney in small claims court in my state? If I show the credit bureau proof that I was not at fault for nonpayment of rent can I get them to correct this mistake without hiring an attorney?

Answer
Hello Harvey,

Having your credit tainted like this can be a very trying experience.  I myself just got out of a situation where I was owed money by a company and they somehow mistakenly thought I owed them the money.  It went all the way to collection, dropped my score by 40 points.  Fortunately I was able to recover and my score is back up.

Filing a lawsuit may not be your path of least resistance for your goal.  If you just want to fix your credit, I would first contact a credit agency like Equifax, Trans Union, Experian, or all three of them.  Explain your situation to them.  Most likely, they will ask you to get some documentation possibly signed by the attorney and the landlord simply stating that you were not a tenant at the premises, and the claims they filed against you were in error.  

I can't see why they wouldn't do this.  It would take them 10 minutes and save them the headache and expense if you did decide to sue them.   I suggest getting in touch with them before the credit agencies to see if you have their cooperation.  

Once you get that statement or letter to the agencies, it could take up to 30 days for the changes to reflect in your score.  I also suggest you get yourself an account with equifax.  They can monitor your score on a monthly basis and keep you informed of things like this.  It is relatively inexpensive and pays off in many other ways.

If this doesn't work, and you need to get the judgement reversed, you will need to hire an attorney to handle that for you.

Let me know how this goes.

Mark  

Real Estate: New York

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Mark Shemel

Expertise

I believe I can answer questions in the following sub categories with respect to New York City: Residential Brokerage, Landlord Tenant disputes, Any type of lease questions, any definition pertaining to residential real estate, any questions about property management, most questions about development, construction codes, and housing laws, questions about Section 8, HPD and government sponsored housing. Also corporate and short term housing questions.

Experience

I am currently the President of Think Properties NYC, a residential brokerage firm in New York City. I am also President of National Property Management Group. We manage over 1000 Residential Units and 50 retail/commercial units, generally as tax payers or part of mixed use buildings. We handle project management, marketing, and rentals/sales of new construction properties as well.

Organizations
The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), Boutique Brokerage Firm Alliance (President)

Publications
New York Times, Real Estate Weekly, Wikipedia, Wiki-answers

Education/Credentials
Undergrad: Union College Degree: Bachelors Degree, Double Major Economics/French Graduate: New York University Degree: Masters of Science, Masters in Real Estate Development Licensed Real Estate Broker in State of New York

Awards and Honors
Undergrad: Phi Beta Kappa, National Honor Society, Magna Cum Laude

Past/Present Clients
Oakwood Worldwide, JP Morgan Chase (for Relocation), and several other firms.

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