Good afternoon. I would take the following approach....I would write the collection agency a certified return receipt requested letter telling them: i) that the landlord had a duty to mitigate by using reasonable efforts to re-let the property, ii) that the landlord did that by adding the new business and owners to the lease and thus implicitly released you from further obligations, iii) that in the alternative, the landlord had the same duty to mitigate when the new tenant went out of business; iv) that due to the foregoing you have no liability for this claim; v) as a result, you are demanding they cease and desist in all efforts against you to collect this debt; and vi) if they do not, they will be in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and you will report any violations ($1,000 fine per violation) to the Federal Trade Commission.
I hope this has given you the guidance you were seeking. I wish you the best of luck!
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The information given here is not legal advice. As all states have different intricacies in their laws, the information given is general only. This communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship with you. I hope this answer has been helpful to you.