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Author: setagel One star, 50 posts 10+ Year Anniversary! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 308881  
Subject: Need suggestions for disputing rent Date: 8/13/2002 8:36 PM
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Ok, here's the scoop: back in January, my dear BF moved. He gave proper notice to his apartment complex, paid 1/2 month rent at the beginning of the month (for a mid-month move-out), vacated the apartment in a timely fashion, and went about his life.

The situation: the apartment complex apparently did not receive BF's notice, nor did they take note of the 1/2 month rent, and therefore believe that BF's "notice" was his return of his keys, parking permit, garage opener, etc. They've decided he owes an additional month of rent, and have sent his account to collections. According to many sources, this apartment management company is a bunch of sleazebags and therefore it is no surprise that they failed to give BF any notice of "failure to notify to vacate" and just sent the case to a CRA.

What's happened: CRA contacted BF several months ago (probably May, BF is something of a scatterbrain and didn't pay much attention when 1st contact was made). He verbally disputed charges on phone with CRA and instructed them not to contact him by phone, but took no action to contact apartment complex. [Well, at least he's not getting hassled.]

Fast forward to July/August: BF receives additional notice (in writing) from CRA. I step in, take charge, and will hopefully solve this mess without having to send any *nasty* letters. I can be forceful without being rude.

Steps taken: a nice, succinct cease & desist is on its way to the CRA, noting that he is disputing the charge and he will not deal with the CRA on any matter relating to this account. I'm composing a letter to the apartment complex, to include the date on which notice was first given, as well as subsequent actions taken. [If there are any letter templates floating around the board that cover this type of dispute, please feel free to send them my way].

So that's that. I know BF gave timely notice, so it's just a matter of convincing the apartment complex that notice was given in a timely manner. My concern is that the written notice was faxed to the complex (and knowing BF it was a hastily scrawled hand-written notice that they probably couldn't read). Does anyone know what some of the legal ramifications might be (we're in CA)? I strongly doubt that BF can produce physical proof of the original notice (although we can certainly show the date on which the 1/2 rent check was cashed), so it boils down to an "us vs. them" scenario.

Any suggestions?

Sarah
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Author: sockwonder Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 136544 of 308881
Subject: Re: Need suggestions for disputing rent Date: 8/13/2002 9:29 PM
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He should look for that fax he sent. If he can't find it, he should visit the apartment, and ask to go over his file with the manager. Then he might be able to see if they have a copy of the fax. If they do, that's the physical evidence. He should get a copy of it. If they won't let him, he should grab the file and run out the door with it. I'm serious. Otherwise they'll throw it away. Then he should go make a copy of the fax, and return the file through the mail slot when the office is closed. Other than that, it doesn't sound like he has much recoure. This experience obviously speaks to keeping records, and following through. Some lessons are best learned the hard way. As far as the legal ramifications, check your local landlord/tenant laws. Check out the Landlords and Tenants section on nolo.com. Good luck!

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Author: halfnickle Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 136594 of 308881
Subject: Re: Need suggestions for disputing rent Date: 8/14/2002 11:27 AM
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Do you know when the unit was rented after he left? If they turned around & rented it right away then they "probably" are not be legally entitled to collect rent from your BF even if he didn't give notice. I use the word "might" because : this is governed not only by Calif. law but also by local ordinance.

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Author: paulfife One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 136598 of 308881
Subject: Re: Need suggestions for disputing rent Date: 8/14/2002 11:34 AM
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Do you know when the unit was rented after he left? If they turned around & rented it right away then they "probably" are not be legally entitled to collect rent from your BF even if he didn't give notice. I use the word "might" because : this is governed not only by Calif. law but also by local ordinance.

This can also be used as evidence proving that they were aware of the move-out earlier than they claim they were, or at least prove that they don't have any damages.

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Author: reverbbrad Two stars, 250 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 136620 of 308881
Subject: Re: Need suggestions for disputing rent Date: 8/14/2002 1:06 PM
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Any suggestions?

Disclaimer: I am not a landlord or a lawyer. I have been a tenant in a couple of bad situations, though.

The good news here is that you haven't paid them, so it isn't as though you are trying to recapture money.

If you don't pay them, (and write them a succinct letter saying that their facts are wrong, etc etc), then they only have so much recourse.

1) They can sue you. How much money are they claiming that BF owes? At some point, the trouble of a lawsuit may not be worth it to them.

If they try this, and you get a lawyer, start calling the lawyer whenever you feel like it to 'discuss' the case. Speak slowly.

Work in a story about that time that you bought a plant for the apartment, but forgot to water it, and then your neighbor was noisy, so you took the dead plant and put it at his doorstep with a note saying his noisy metal music killed the plant, and then you got to chatting with your neighbors and had dinner... roasted chicken with potatoes... where was I?

After their legal bills start coming in, the landlord may be less inclined to pursue. I am not kidding, I did this once (they were screamingly at fault, but wouldn't admit it), and it actually worked. YMMV. And, from what I understand, courts tend to be sympathetic to tenants who appear/have been responsible.

2) They can screw up your credit. I don't know how else to handle this other than dispute the claim. Other folks probably have better advice.

But that is really all they can do. Your options, of course, are a) to pay them (nnoooo....), b) to offer to settle or c) to fight them.

Unfortunately, these things are no fun all the way around. Chin up, you are doing the right thing by not letting jerks take advantage of you...

-Brad



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Author: reverbbrad Two stars, 250 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 136621 of 308881
Subject: Re: Need suggestions for disputing rent Date: 8/14/2002 1:08 PM
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If they try this, and you get a lawyer, start calling the lawyer whenever you feel like it to 'discuss' the case. Speak slowly.

Oops, typing too fast. I meant if you hear from their lawyer. Obviously, I am not suggesting that you get a lawyer for yourself and then waste his/her time.

-Brad

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Author: jacqueg One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 136632 of 308881
Subject: Re: Need suggestions for disputing rent Date: 8/14/2002 2:12 PM
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Just a thought - if DBF notified them by fax, investigate the fax machine that he used. Depending on the model and how long ago it was, the machine *may* still have a record of the phone number to which the fax was sent and whether the transmission was OK. It might help bolster your case if you can provide time and date. Of course, if they're sleazes, evidence might not make any difference.

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