Housing

questions & answers

Question: I was evicted from my apartment in 2010 after being admitted to the hospital and never returned for my belongings. Two years later I went back to rectify the money owed to them and clear my credit history. They had no records on me and told me they were under new management. Now it is 2015 and a collection agency is attempting to collect money in arrears due to a broken lease as well as 10% interest for the 5 years since the eviction. I want to dispute these excessive charges but do I need an attorney to help me? Please advise. Thanks.

Answer: Whether a landlord (or its collection agency) can seek to collect rent owed long after eviction depends on many factors. If a formal Judgment was issued by the court in favor of the landlord and if the tenant was properly notified of that court action, the amount of the judgment can be collected for at least FIVE years--longer if they obtain a Judgment Renewal from the court (Arizona Rules of Procedure For Eviction Actions).
If the court's judgment awarded interest, this, and the interest rate (often 10% per year) will be specified on the court document (a public document)  Typically, it will read: “With interest thereon at the rate of 10% per annum from the date of judgment until paid in full, with accruing costs.”   A person is considered to know the outcome of the eviction lawsuit (that they owe the debt and that interest will accrue until the debt is paid) if they were legally notified when the eviction action began.

If there was no money judgment ordered, interest was not awarded, and the lease does not address landlord entitlement to interest, the collection agency cannot demand accrued interest.  The “Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act” (FDCPA) says a “debt collector” ... (including a collection agent or service or a property manager acting on behalf of the landlord to collect a debt)... may not use unfair or unconscionable means in collecting or attempting to collect a debt, including the collection of any amount (such as interest, fees, or expenses) not authorized by the lease agreement or other law. [15 U.S.C. §1692 (f)].  The article on this site, "You and the Law: Fair Debt Collection" describes your rights regarding debt collectors.

Negotiating the amount owed with the collection agency is sometimes successful but if not, this site provides information for finding legal representation. http://www.azlawhelp.org/legalaidlisting.cfm

QUESTIONS

  • I was evicted from my apartment in 2010 after being admitted to the hospital and never returned for my belongings. Two years later I went back to rectify the money owed to them and clear my credit history. They had no records on me and told me they were under new management. Now it is 2015 and a collection agency is attempting to collect money in arrears due to a broken lease as well as 10% interest for the 5 years since the eviction. I want to dispute these excessive charges but do I need an attorney to help me? Please advise. Thanks.

STORIES

  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .
  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .
  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .

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