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Question about Disputing a debt


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The debt in question is for South Carolina.

I moved out of an apartment I shared with a roommate at the end of June 2007. While I spent significant time cleaning the apartment and finished moving, my roommate, apparently, did not finish moving all of her possessions and left some of them.

The apartment complex sent an itemized list of damages to my current address within 30 days of move-out, totalling over a thousand dollars. The majority of these damages I do not feel are fair. For example:

-I was informed verbally when inquiring about move-out procedure that the apartment complex does not require me to repaint or have the carpet cleaned (for normal wear and tear). On the itemized list they sent, however, there was a charge for 200 dollars for repainting (for one room), as well as 400 for carpet cleaning. The damages to the carpet that they are contending were the result of a small flood in my apartment that occurred when my dishwasher broke in late 2006. At the time it broke, I immediately contacted the apartment complex. They took over three weeks to even come look at the apartment. During this time, I was repeatedly contacting them regarding these damages which they did not attend to and had to threaten legal action on them to even get them to come attend to it.

-They list a charge for drip-pan replacement, but I purchased brand new drip-pans two days before I moved out.

-They list charges for several areas in the kitchen which I personally cleaned myself and know they were cleaned.

Additionally, a second problem is that the original itemized bill was sent to my house. Attached was my name, as well as a roommate that was removed from the least in October 2006 and replaced with another. Paperwork was filed to add the new roommate on. I contacted the apartment complex immediately to notify them of this error and they assured me that the new roommate should have been sent a copy of the letter, but she has not.

I spoke with the apartment complex on three separate occasions to dispute the charges. They informed me there was nothing they could do about it until it went to collections, and that they could not negotiate it down until then.

The account went to a collection agency this month. The collection agency is trying to collect for the full bill. I am sending a debt validation letter and intend to dispute the individual charges.

So, my questions:

-What information will the collection agency be required to provide in order to validate this debt? What would be considered insufficient proof of validation? What would be considered sufficient?

-If they are able to validate the debt, what course of action should I follow then? Should I continue to dispute individual charges, or try for debt settlement?

-Should I dispute the itemize charges with the collection agency, given that the apartment complex has blown me off regarding this each time I have spoken with them? Or, do I also need to send a registered letter to the apartment complex, even though they have handed it to a collection agency?

-Are they required to provide proof of the damages, including bills and receipts for labor?

-What is the likelihood of this being taken to court? I'd rather avoid court, if possible. I don't own any personal property and I do not make a substantial income, so even being able to hire a lawyer would be difficult.

Any information that can be provided would be helpful, as this is something of a confusing process for me. I have and have always had good credit, so this is the first time I've ever had to deal with a collection agency.

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Hey, if it makes you feel any better they have a very weak case. Landlords usually lose due to normal wear and tear.

I have never heard of being charged to repaint! And they won't win for carpet replacement if the carpet is older than 4 years old in most cases.

I know this because my ex-DH used to be an appt manager and 99% of the time lost their case.

Definitely DV them and see where it goes from there.

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