A common story that I am hearing in my law office is that a person moves from an apartment or rental home, and later gets slammed with false debts on their credit reports (Experian, Equifax and Trans Union). Normally, the landlord says the debt is for unpaid rent, damage to the property, or fees related to the former tenancy. In many cases, the tenant already defeated the landlord in a court escrow case, only for the landlord to then report the same rent at issue on the tenant’s credit reports. At times, it seems like the landlords are just trying to squeeze some extra money out of their tenants by sending bogus debts to collections after the tenants move out. In any case, this business practice is illegal.
The landlords may not be reporting these false debts themselves; landlords often hire debt collectors to report the false debts on your credit reports. In both cases, the landlords and debt collectors who they hire are violating the law. Reporting the false debt on your credit reports is a violation of the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act), and you should contact a consumer protection attorney (like us if you live in Maryland) if you see any false debts like this pop up on your credit report. If the landlord hired a debt collector to collect the false debt, then you may also have a viable FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) case against the debt collector, and similar state causes of action against the landlord.
This is only one of a plethora of Landlord – Tenant issues that can affect your credit report. Do not let these landlords and debt collectors get away with violating the law and harming your credit. We can help you for little to no money out-of-pocket because the consumer protection statutes that we use force the landlords and debt collectors to pay your attorney’s fees. (See our friend’s “fee shifting” explanation here)
For a representative example of our work on credit reporting issues, see a case where the United States District Court for the District of Maryland ruled in our client Crystal Long’s favor on motions for summary judgment: