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Advice on Money Owed on an Old Lease Agreement

I broke my lease but made arrangements to pay the difference. Now I see that it is showing on my credit? What do I do?

I moved out of an apartment about a year ago. I broke my lease but made an agreement to make payments to pay off the difference. However, the bill sent was higher than what was agreed. I discussed the information with the manager at the time and it was agreed that I would pay the lower amount, not the incorrect amount. So i did this and thought I had paid off my account in full. But apparently the management changed, but nothing had been changed in my file so it showed that I owed $100 more. I received a letter in the mail about 2 months ago from a collection agency stating I owed them $100 for non-collected payments on the apartment (the "difference" I was told i didn't need to pay). I spoke with the then manager who was aware of the deal originally and said I did not owe anything further. Gave me a letter stating I did not owe the money and that the reporting to the credit agency was a mistake. I spoke with the credit agency and they said they couldn't do anything and that it would be reported to my credit. Now I took a major hit (i had perfect credit) on my credit. What can I do to resolve this issue?

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Bill's Answer
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Given your age, the fact that this collector has filed a lawsuit against you, and that you do not have sufficient assets to repay the debt, I encourage you to consult with a bankruptcy attorney to determine whether your filing for bankruptcy protection will help you resolve this debt. In my experience, once a creditor had filed a lawsuit against a debtor, the creditor generally becomes less willing to negotiate with the debtor, which is why bankruptcy, which would force your creditor to stop its collection activity, may be a good choice for you. I do not know all of the details of your financial situation, so I am not in a position to tell you whether you should file bankruptcy. However, I can discuss some common issues that may help you decide if bankruptcy is the right option for you. To read more about bankruptcy and how it may be able to help you, I invite you to visit the Bills.com bankruptcy page to learn more.

There are two basic types of consumer bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also called a liquidation bankruptcy, a bankruptcy trustee will examine your assets, and if you have any assets which are not exempt, sell those non-exempt assets to repay your creditors. Once your non-exempt assets have been sold to pay your creditors, all remaining unsecured debts will be discharged by the bankruptcy court. Many people who file for Chapter 7 protection are able to keep all of their property because they have no non-exempt property. Each state has its own schedule of exempt assets, so you should consult with a qualified bankruptcy attorney in your state to find out if Chapter 7 is a workable solution for your situation. An attorney will also be able to tell you if you qualify to file Chapter 7 under the guidelines enacted by Congress in 2005. To read more about the property exemptions in your state, read the Bills.com chapter 7 page.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy, also called a “wage-earner’s bankruptcy,” allows you to propose a plan to repay creditors over time — usually five years. Your monthly payment amount will be based on your monthly disposable income as defined by the bankruptcy code. After you have made payments to your creditors for five years, any remaining unsecured debts will be discharged. Chapter 13 is commonly used by debtors whose assets exceed the exemptions offered by state and federal law. It is also used by many consumer debtors who do not qualify for Chapter 7 relief under the means test, which went into effect in 2005 with the Bankruptcy Reform Act. Read the Bills.com chapter 13 page to learn more.

Alternatives

If you find that you cannot practically file for bankruptcy protection, or if you find that it will not help your financial situation, you should consider some of the alternatives to bankruptcy available to consumers. Programs such as credit counseling (CCCS), debt settlement, or debt consolidation may be able to help you resolve this debt. However, given the fact that the creditor has already filed legal action against your wife, I strongly encourage you to first consult with a bankruptcy attorney to determine if bankruptcy, which is the definitive solution to your problem, is a viable option. For more information about the debt help alternatives mentioned above, I encourage you to visit the Bills.com Debt Help page.

I invite you to explore Bills.com, which offers a wealth of information about mortgages, bankruptcy, and many other topics. I hope this information will help you Find. Learn. Save.

Best,

Bill

Bills.com

3.7
/5.0
(7 Votes)

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4 Comments

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  • DJ
    Jul, 2014
    dana
    Charlotte, NC
    What if a lease amount is on your all-3 credit report? Can I still use the statute of limitations on debt? If so, do I do it for the state the lease was in or the state I currently live in?
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Jul, 2014
      Bill
      Each state has its own statute of limitations for breach of contract. Some states have long statutes of limitations, and some have short statutes of limitations. Your state's statute of limitation has no impact on how long a bad account can appear on your credit report. What appears on your credit report is controlled by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is a federal law.

      The fact the debt appears on your credit report is not related to the statute of limitations for debt for a written contract in your state. The derogatory account can remain on your credit report for 7 years after the date on which you first defaulted on your lease agreement. If the landlord or its assignee have not sued you yet, then you want to know the SOL for debt. If it has passed, then you can use it to avoid paying, if you claim it as a defense in a lawsuit.

      To learn which state statute of limitations applies to you, read the Bills.com article How to Tell Which Statute of Limitations Applies to You.
      0 Votes

  • BA
    Feb, 2009
    Bill
    Look if they reported it on your credit report. Get a no-cost, no-gimmick copy of your credit reports from each of the big-three credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com.
    0 Votes

  • EG
    Feb, 2009
    ERICA
    I BROKE A LEASE AND I AM TRYING TO PAY IT OFF BUT IT HAS BEEN SO MANY YEARS I DONT KNOW HOW TO GO ABOUT DOING SO I CALLED THE APARTMENTS AND THEY SAID THEY WOULD HAVE TO LOO FOR IT IN A BUNCH OF BOXES AND HAVE NEVER GOTTEN BACK WITH ME
    0 Votes

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