Consumer Protection Law
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San Bernardino, California - cosigner for 1 year lease. Removed myself for 2nd year lease. Renter had to go month to month with higher rent due to not having a cosigner. Renter could not afford rent and missed a couple of months. Now leasing company says I'm still liable and sent me to collections. Unpaid rent/legal fees came after my co-signed lease agreement ended. How can I still be responsible... Response 1: I do not see how you can be held responsible for a month to month tenancy, "internal rules or not." Also, the complex's rational for making you responsible for the delinquent rent does not make sense. How can you be held responsible for the month to month rent when they could not renew the Tenant's lease because you did not sign as a co-signer? If you are still being held liable as a co-signer, why then was the Tenant being charged higher fee for month to month because she does not have a co-signer? It does not make sense and the complex's attempt to hold you responsible for the rent under the circumstances is quite illegal—it is an unfair and deceptive practice. What's the purpose of increasing a renter's rent if I'm still liable. I signed no other documents stating I will remain liable after the lease ended. Although leasing company say there's an internal rule that keeps me responsible. I have No written documentation or knowledge of such rule. Please advise Response 2: I agree with your sentiment here. How can I remove collections account, which also operates outside of FTA laws. No validation documents provided. I disputed debt on 5/1 and collections account was added to my credit report 5/13. Less than 30 days required and without providing validation documentation to me as required by FTA. Response 3: The reporting of the derogatory information after you have disputed the information is in violation of Fair Credit Reporting Act. Also, it is in violation of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act when the debt collector refuses to validate the debt and then reports the account to the credit reporting bureaus. You can actually file lawsuit against the collector and the complex for unfair and deceptive act and practice and for violation of Fair Credit Reporting Act.
You would need to dispute the information with the credit reporting bureaus, where this information is being reported. The credit reporting bureaus have up to 45 days to investigate the dispute and get back to you pursuant to Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA"). If the dispute is resolved in your favor, they would either delete the adverse report or report your account as paid. If the dispute is not resolved in your favor, you would be given opportunity to add a "Statement" to your account as to what happened and why you believe that the information is wrong. Your potential creditors would see the Statement while reviewing your account for future credit.
You can dispute the information online, on the phone, or by mail with the credit reporting bureaus. Online is much more efficient and faster.
You may also retain the services of a local consumer Attorney to sue the complex and the collector. Most consumer Attorneys would take your case on contingent fee basis. This means that the consumer Attorney would not charge you unless she wins the case for you. Also, Courts do award Attorney’s fees to the prevailing consumer. So, the consumer may not pay any money at all to retain an Attorney. You can use the following sites to find local consumer Attorneys:
I am sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I had to sign off temporarily to grab something to eat.
Thank you so much for validating my thoughts. There's one area on the co-signed lease that feels like a loophole for the leasing company. It states if checked (and it is) after the termination date, this agreement will continue on a month to month basis until terminated as specified elsewhere in this agreement. When the words "agreement" is used does this also includes my signature as a cosigner/guarantor? Termination Date is 11/5/2012 Response 1: I would argue that it does not include you for the simple fact that the Tenant is only being charged the higher rent because you did not co-sign the renewal because you no longer want to be liable for the rental agreement. So, it is quite contradictory that you would still be held liable for her delinquent rent when she is not getting the benefit of you being the co-signer because you did not co-sign the lease and as a result she became a month to month Tenant. The provision in the lease is ambiguous and as with all adhesion contract, which a lease is, it is more than likely that the Court would construe the provision in your favor. That is, you would not be held liable for the so called agreement. The complex would have a hard time reconciling the contradiction that requires a Tenant to be a month to month Tenant because of lack of co-signer but still holds the co-signer responsible when the Tenant defaults on the month to month tenancy.
By the way I've filed complaints with the FTC, Attorney General in California and the state of Washington, where the Collections Account Operates business, as well as trans Union credit reporting agency - all online. No response received yet. I do not see a negative collection accounts on Exoerian or Equifax (yet).
Response 2: TransUnion would have up to 45 days to investigate the dispute and get back to you. As for FTC and Attorneys General Offices, I would not hold my breath on them. They would just put your case in their database and if there is a pattern with this particular complex, they may initiate a lawsuit in the public interest against this company for its deceptive acts and practices.
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