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Tina, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 5436
Experience:  17 years of legal experience including real estate law.
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We lived in Everett for about 18 months doing contract labor

Customer Question

We lived in Everett for about 18 months doing contract labor and got released from my job in December last year. The lease I had with the apartment had no clause for loss on income. I went ahead and turned my moving out date knowing I was breaking the lease. They refused to accept the letter as I could not pay 2 months rent. They then trumped up the damage to the apartment and kept all deposits which I expected. They then turned me over to collection agency who claim I owe 2 months rent plus an extra $1000 plus for not giving notice I was moving. I tried to negotiate with the collection people but to no avail. We moved out the 15th of December with the rent payed thru the end of that month, thru their website I believe they rented the apartment sometime in January. Is it not a law in Washington they cannot double charge the rents?
JA: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state the property is in?
Customer: Everett, Washington
JA: Has any paperwork been filed?
Customer: Paperwork? They rejected my notice of vacation and threw it away. Since then I have ignored them.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I think I summed it up.
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Legal Eagle replied 1 month ago.

Hello! I am a licensed attorney, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating so all that means is that you can count on me to help today. Do you mind if I take a moment to review your question?

Please keep in mind that our conversation does not include an attorney-client relationship and this is for general information purposes only. Additionally, most people believe a phone call is the easiest and most efficient way to handle problems. Accordingly, you will receive an automatic phone call request. If you would like a phone call, please click “Accept” when prompted.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Just need a simple answer before I continue.
Expert:  Legal Eagle replied 1 month ago.

Great thanks! Just a moment while I type up your answer...Remember, if you get an automatic phone call request and you would not like a phone call, you’re welcome to reject the offer.

Expert:  Legal Eagle replied 1 month ago.

Ok, thank you for your patience on this. Unfortunately, there is no law that prohibits the charging of two month’s rent; however, it seems like there are a couple causes of action that you may have against this debt collection company and against the landlord. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act at section 1692(e), it is unlawful for a debt collector to say that you owe a balance when you do not. In the future, you may want to consider just writing a cease and desist letter (click here) for all collection attempts under the FDCPA. Lawyers use letters like these on the regular basis to enforce their client’s rights. There’s a site that I’ve used in the past where you can find a good template for a demand letter (click here). It only costs $10 and it is way cheaper than litigation. If they continue, then you should file a complaint with the FTC regarding their action.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I tried to research the law before we left. I was in a position where I had no chance of keeping up with the rent payments on unemployment, however it was my understanding by Washington law that they could not charge me and collect from a new tenant, effectively double charging. I'm sure they do and get away with it all the time for the people that do pay the penalty then rent it before that has run out.
Expert:  Legal Eagle replied 1 month ago.

I understand what you mean. Generally, I can't find any legal Authority that says that they can't double charge for the rent. a landlord's damages generally must be mitigated by reasonable efforts to find a new tenant for the place. However, this limits the amount of damages that they can charge. Contract law would probably have them disgorge (give back) the amount that they charged you if they found a new tenant during the month that you would technically have to pay.