vickinicole

Apartment complex, threatening to file claim against performance bond!! Help!

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My name is Vicki, I am 34 years old, single, no chidlren, living in Arizona.

  1. In December I moved in suddenly with my 81 year old Grandma to be her caretaker after rushing her to the emergency for breathing and heart problems. Her health is rapidly declining, she has many chronic health issues, including kidney failure, dialysis and someone needs to be here with her everyday. This unexpected move meant breaking my APARTMENT lease 3 months early. This move also put a strain on my already limited finances. I had previously sent my apartment complex a NOTICE OF NON RENEWAL OF LEASE a few weeks before moving, as I was planning to move at the end of my lease anyway.
    At the time I moved out, in December, I talked to the apartment complex manager who agreed not to formally evict me but to send me a itemized bill. They said that if the apartment was rented out prior to the end of my lease I would get some of the fees reduced.
    A few days later I recieved a bill in the mail from them for $2400. It including numerous items (cleaning fees, relet fees, 3 months rent). I was only paying $500 a month rent to the apartment complex with 3 months left on my lease. I didn't expect the bill to be more than $1500 and was hoping even that would be reduced once they rented to someone else. I never imagined the bill would be almost twice that.
    On the bottom of the statement it also says:
    IF CERTIFIED FUNDS ARE NOT RECEIVED WITHIN SEVEN DAYS OF THE DATE OF THIS LETTER, WE WILL FILE A CLAIM AGAINST YOUR PERFORMANCE BOND. YOU WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR REIMBURSING THE BOND COMPANY UP TO THE LIMIT OF YOUR PERFORMANCE BOND, IN ADDITION TO ANY FURTHER AMOUNTS DUE THIS COMMUNITY. THIS WILL REFLECT IN A NEGATIVE REPORT ON YOUR CREDIT RATING AND WILL AFFECT YOUR ABILITY TO OBTAIN INSURANCE.
    During the chaos of the move, postal address changes and just not having the time to even read my mail I didn't even open and read this mail from them until 2 days ago, which is when I panicked.
    I recently began the process of repairing my credit after many years of irresponsible activity and not understanding the importance of good credit. I have been trying very hard to tighten my belt and not get any further negative items on my credit report. My FICO score early last year was 494. I've worked diligently the last 7 months to not incur any new debt and to make regular payments on all active accounts. I paid my rent on time the entire 2 years I lived in the apartment, except for one occurance in 2006. Due to my more responsible behavior my FICO score went up to 563 within the past 7 months.
    Now I am in the process of doing even more to repair my credit. In the past few days, I've been typing up disputes and demanding verification and compliance with FDCPA and the FCRA from my creditors. I am taking the time to read as much as I can about credit and the credit repair process.
    I am really upset and panicked that all my hardwork will go out the window if the apartment complex follows through on their threats.
  2. By the way, I didn't even KNOW what a performance bond was. I didn't realize what I had signed when I signed it with my lease to get the apartment 2 years ago. I didn't pay a deposit when I moved in, just a $89 fee for the Sure Deposit. I didn't realize that the SURE deposit was a performance bond until I looked up the term "performance bond" on the internet yesterday.
  3. What does it mean that they are going to file a claim against it? What does that mean legally and for my credit? Don't they have to give me more than 7 days before they follow through on such an action?
  4. It's already been more than 7 days since they sent me the letter. But it's been less than a month. They sent it around December 14, 2007. I'm not sure the exact date that I recieved it but since today is Jan 10, I know that it hasn't been quite 30 days so I would like to send them a gracious letter requesting that they halt any sort of action that could adversely affect my credit until I can pay them or work something out with them. I know that time is of the essence so I would like to get this mailed out through CERTIFIED MAIL RETURN RECIEPT by Friday.
  5. I want to send them a letter requesting some sort of reduced settlement offer and also a payment plan. I can afford to pay around $75 a month. I have no savings, credit cards, or borrowing ability to pay them the full amount in a lump sump.
    I have already started writing a letter to the apartment complex, which I will post in a reply under this post. Can a legal expert on this forum take a look at it or maybe you can add some legal jargon to help me get the outcome I am seeking (reduced fee, payment plan, halting action as far as the performance bond and reporting on my credit).
  6. I just got the number to a community legal service in Glendale and I will call tomorrow as well, but I know that sometimes they are really swamped and might not be able to see me for weeks, besides the fact that school starts next Monday night and I work during the day, so probably couldn't go to legal aid anyway.
  7. I have taken a look at the AZ laws on housing at http://www.azsos.gov/public_services/Publications/Residential_Landlord_Tenant_Act/#1370
    but I am not a lawyer and cannot see how it pertains to the results I am seeking.
    Please help if you can!!
    Thank you.
    --

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Dear [Apartment COMPLEX]:

I recently moved from my apartment because of an emergency situation with my 81 year old grandmother, who is chronically ill, that required me to move in and take care of her. My finances were strained due to this unexpected move.

Your office recently sent me a final account statement in the amount of $2,431.72. I do not have this amount to pay you. I do have many concerns with the different fees on this final account statement. I was told that if this apartment were rented out before 2/29/08, the final bill would be adjusted.

I have taken a long, hard look at my situation, and have worked out a very careful budget along with a repayment schedule for all of my creditors. I am asking [apartment complex] to accept a reduced payment until I am back on my feet again. I am also requesting that you halt any further debt collection action that could be harmful to my credit and not to file a claim against my performance bond. I did not even know that I had a performance bond with your company.

I am hoping that we can come to some agreement as to a payment plan. In the mean time I would like to make a good faith effort to pay on this debt. I request that you accept payments of $75 each month. As a good faith effort, I am enclosing the first of these payments.

If there is any question about the repayment schedule or anything else in this letter, please feel free to contact me in writing at [My Address].

Sincerely,

[Me]

Enclosures: 2

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I wish I could be more help for you... but I'm still not even understanding why you needed a bond for an apartment lease, but then again it's been 20 years since I rented.

I'll post though and bump you back up the posting lists in the hopes that someone has some insight for you.

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I dont even know what a "bond" is, I've heard of it before but never knew what it was.

I never imagined that I would have one and didn't know I had one until I recieved that letter from them.

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Add me to the list of :dunno: I had to google Performance bond to get a grasp on WTH you were talking about.....but I'm still a bit clueless of the istuation...your "performance bond" / Sure deposit was what...less than 100 bucks? let them file a claim on that and take your hundred bucks.

There has to be something missing...

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Add me to the list of :dunno: I had to google Performance bond to get a grasp on WTH you were talking about.....but I'm still a bit clueless of the istuation...your "performance bond" / Sure deposit was what...less than 100 bucks? let them file a claim on that and take your hundred bucks.

There has to be something missing...

no the Sure deposit was a deposit on the performance bond (I AM GUESSING)

For all I know the performance bond is a million dollars and I owe them a million plus fees. I did the same thing you did; googled the search term "performance bond". I also still didnt understand what it is, but noticed that the word SURETY was coming up in the Google search results. That's when i rememberd I paid that lil fee for that Sure deposit and put two and two together.

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OK that does make sense.

Still weird, though :p

And I doubt you'll owe the entire bond...they're just filing for what you owe, to be taken out of the bond, perhaps?

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OK that does make sense.

Still weird, though :p

And I doubt you'll owe the entire bond...they're just filing for what you owe, to be taken out of the bond, perhaps?

Dear God I hope so. I am most worried about the effect filing their claim with the bond company will have on my credit. The note they put on the account statement indicated that it would have a adverse effect on my credit and prevent me from getting insurance.

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You don't know that the bond will affect your credit. What it means is someoen else will be hounding you.

I would remind them that you gave them timely notice that you were moving at the end of your lease and you don't expect to pay any more rent if the place was re-rented within teh period, that you expect an itemized bill with receipts and a copy of the performance bond since you have no recollection of it. You want to make sure neither you nor the bonding company is taken advantage of. You may have better luck dealing with the bonding comapny.

Wow, a performance bond for an apartment lease. Never seen that!

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You don't know that the bond will affect your credit. What it means is someoen else will be hounding you.

I would remind them that you gave them timely notice that you were moving at the end of your lease and you don't expect to pay any more rent if the place was re-rented within teh period, that you expect an itemized bill with receipts and a copy of the performance bond since you have no recollection of it. You want to make sure neither you nor the bonding company is taken advantage of. You may have better luck dealing with the bonding comapny.

Wow, a performance bond for an apartment lease. Never seen that!

I don't understand why they specifically said on the letter that if they file the claim on my performance bond it would negatively reflect on my credit and prevent me from getting insurance.

I did give them 3 months notice I was moving at the end of my lease. They require 2 months notice. However, I did not end up moving at the end of my lease, I left early. I do want a copy of that performance bond though, thanks for suggesting that. I will add it to my letter.

that initial final account statement from them included the itemized bill, here is the breakdown of what the apartment complex is charging me for:

Ledger Account at move-out

Late fees: 127.25 (because I didn't pay the december rent at all and didn't let them know I had moved till dec 13)

December rent: 197.0 (I guess they prorated it)

Tax: 4.57

Upgrade fee $10.48 (I've been paying a upgrade fee since the day I moved in)

Utiltiy-Water-Swer: $8.09

Utiltiy fee $4.25

Additional charges after move out

1 bag trash & box - $30

Full clean - $165.00

Relet fee: $503.91

Remove 3 lg items left $65 (i had a couple tables left I think, can't remember the third item)

Rent 12/14-2/29/08 - $1,294.52 (this fee should come off if they can rent out the apartment)

Utility - $21.05 (not sure why this is on there twice

Total account balance due : $2,431.72

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It seems to me you have to argue against the large rental, since if the apartment was rented out quickly. I would contest the re-rental fee. WTF is that? You may want to talk with your county/state consumer protection people or the state AG to see if they have any insight into those charges and teh whole perfomrance bond deal.

Again, get a copy of the bobnd and a contact. The bondoing company doesn't want to pay, either, so they could end up being your friend.

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OK I am a landlord myself, and although the rules can be a bit different from locale to locale there are some things that are pretty constant.

First, they cannot charge you for any rent if they re-rent the apartment; but you know that already.

Next, they cannot charge your for cleaning or normal "wear and tear" repairs. They also cannot charge for paint if it is their policy to repaint between tenants anyways.

They also must provide you with receipts for anything they are attempting to charge you for in the way of repairs or utility bills. No receipt, you don't have to pay it. And they are not allowed to mark-up the prices.

So that leads me to question several items you list. $30 for one box and a bag of trash? Bull-chips. Unless they had the bag of trash loaded on a rocket to be blasted into the sun there is no way that was more than $2. The box also is being marked up. A full size wardrobe box with the metal hanger rail costs about $8.

$65 to remove 3 large items? Did they hire Sylvester Stalone to move it? That's less than an hour of work at the outside. I doubt they are paying their maintenance staff $65 an hour. And if they got some college kids to do it (likely), they probably paid $20 tops for it.

$127.25 in late fees? Not likely. Most jurisdictions cap late fees at 10% of the balance owed. If they say it was $197 in rent past due (which means they acknowledge your early move out date) then I would say the late fee should not be over $20.

Then there are the utilities. If you did not previously pay for utilities seperately to the rental company they have no business trying to charge you for them. If water and heat were part of your rent, then they are double-dipping by trying to charge for it as a line item plus the full rental amount.

A relet fee can only be charged if it is in your contract and they re-rented the apartment before the expiration of your lease. This leads me to believe they did re-rent the apartment and are not entitled to the full balance of the lease.

You have a right to audit. That means you can tell them to provide a copy of the books that show when the apartment was re-rented. They likely will not cooperate and it may come down to hiring a lawyer on contingency (which means you pay the lawyer nothing unless he wins your case, then he takes a % of the winnings.) to pound some sense into them.

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It seems to me you have to argue against the large rental, since if the apartment was rented out quickly. I would contest the re-rental fee. WTF is that? You may want to talk with your county/state consumer protection people or the state AG to see if they have any insight into those charges and teh whole perfomrance bond deal.

Again, get a copy of the bobnd and a contact. The bondoing company doesn't want to pay, either, so they could end up being your friend.

I don't know if the apartment was rented out. Will they let me know that information? They did tell me that if it was rented out my bill would be adjusted.

I will definitely ask them for a copy of the bond.

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I rewrote the letter to include some of the things you mentioned. Can you take a look at it and tell me what you think. Thank you for your helpful information.

DRAFT 2

Dear [Apartment complex]:

I recently moved from my apartment because of an emergency situation with my 81 year old grandmother, who is chronically ill, that required me to move in and take care of her. My finances were strained due to this unexpected move.

Your office recently sent me a final account statement in the amount of $2,431.72. I do not have this amount to pay you. I do have many concerns with the high fees on this final account statement. You’ve charged me $30 for a big bag of trash and box? Full clean $165? Please provide me with receipts for everything you are charging me for in the way of repairs or utility bills. I should not be charged for normal "wear and tear" repairs or cleanings that a landlord would need to do whether I moved out early or not.

I also feel the relet fee is exorbitant. A relet fee can only be charged if it is in my lease contract and the apartment was re-rented before the expiration of my lease. Because you have charged me a relet fee, this leads me to believe you re-rented the apartment. Your office told me that if the apartment were rented out before 2/29/08, the final bill would be adjusted. I hope that is still true.

Also I do not understand what you mean by “performance bond”. That was not explained to me when I signed my lease nor at any time while I was living at [apartment complex]. Please send me a copy of the performance bond and a contact number for them. I am requesting that you halt any further debt collection action that could be harmful to my credit and not to file a claim against my performance bond.

I have taken a long, hard look at my situation, and have worked out a very careful budget along with a repayment schedule for all of my creditors. I would like to make a good faith effort to pay on my debt to you and am asking you to accept a reduced payment of $75 each month until I am back on my feet again.

If there is any question about the repayment schedule or anything else in this letter, please feel free to contact me in writing at [my address].

Sincerely,

[me]

OK I am a landlord myself, and although the rules can be a bit different from locale to locale there are some things that are pretty constant.

First, they cannot charge you for any rent if they re-rent the apartment; but you know that already.

Next, they cannot charge your for cleaning or normal "wear and tear" repairs. They also cannot charge for paint if it is their policy to repaint between tenants anyways.

They also must provide you with receipts for anything they are attempting to charge you for in the way of repairs or utility bills. No receipt, you don't have to pay it. And they are not allowed to mark-up the prices.

So that leads me to question several items you list. $30 for one box and a bag of trash? Bull-chips. Unless they had the bag of trash loaded on a rocket to be blasted into the sun there is no way that was more than $2. The box also is being marked up. A full size wardrobe box with the metal hanger rail costs about $8.

$65 to remove 3 large items? Did they hire Sylvester Stalone to move it? That's less than an hour of work at the outside. I doubt they are paying their maintenance staff $65 an hour. And if they got some college kids to do it (likely), they probably paid $20 tops for it.

$127.25 in late fees? Not likely. Most jurisdictions cap late fees at 10% of the balance owed. If they say it was $197 in rent past due (which means they acknowledge your early move out date) then I would say the late fee should not be over $20.

Then there are the utilities. If you did not previously pay for utilities seperately to the rental company they have no business trying to charge you for them. If water and heat were part of your rent, then they are double-dipping by trying to charge for it as a line item plus the full rental amount.

A relet fee can only be charged if it is in your contract and they re-rented the apartment before the expiration of your lease. This leads me to believe they did re-rent the apartment and are not entitled to the full balance of the lease.

You have a right to audit. That means you can tell them to provide a copy of the books that show when the apartment was re-rented. They likely will not cooperate and it may come down to hiring a lawyer on contingency (which means you pay the lawyer nothing unless he wins your case, then he takes a % of the winnings.) to pound some sense into them.

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I just took a look at my lease;

1. It doesn't mention a performance bond.

2. It does mention a $503.91 reletting charge if I move out without paying rent in full for the entire lease term.

I revised my letter to them taking out the mention of the reletting charge.

Draft 4

Dear [apartment complex]:

I recently moved from my apartment because of an emergency situation with my 81 year old grandmother, who is chronically ill, that required me to move in and take care of her. My finances were strained due to this unexpected move.

Your office recently sent me a final account statement in the amount of $2,431.72. I do not have this amount to pay you. Your office told me that if the apartment were rented out before 2/29/08, the final bill would be adjusted. I hope that is still true.

I do have many concerns with the high fees on this final account statement. Please provide me with receipts for everything you are charging me for. I should not be charged for normal "wear and tear" repairs or cleanings that a landlord would need to do whether I moved out early or not.

Also, I do not understand your statement on the final account statement you sent saying you will file a claim against my performance bond. That was not explained to me when I signed my lease nor at any time while I was living at [apartment complex]. I also can’t find anything about this in my lease. Please send me a copy of the performance bond and a contact number for them. I am requesting that you halt any further debt collection action that could be harmful to my credit and not to file a claim against my performance bond if one exists.

Although I am unable to pay the amount in full at this time, I would like to work out a monthly payment arrangements with you. I have taken a long, hard look at my situation, and have worked out a very careful budget along with a repayment schedule for all of my creditors. I would like to make a good faith effort to pay on my debt to you and am asking [apartment complex] to accept a reduced payment of $100 each month until I am back on my feet again.

If there is any question about the repayment schedule or anything else in this letter, please feel free to contact me in writing at [my address].

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Although I am unable to pay the amount in full at this time, I would like to work out a monthly payment arrangements with you. I have taken a long, hard look at my situation, and have worked out a very careful budget along with a repayment schedule for all of my creditors. I would like to make a good faith effort to pay on my debt to you and am asking Stillwater to accept a reduced payment of $100 each month until I am back on my feet again

Just my 2cents

I wouldn't put that in there until they send you some paperwork and the stuff you asked for.

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Your office recently sent me a final account statement in the amount of $2,431.72. I do not have this amount to pay you. Your office told me that if the apartment were rented out before 2/29/08, the final bill would be adjusted. I hope that is still true.

I would put "I dispute this debt"

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I would put "I dispute this debt"

I'm a little worried about agitating them enough that they get their lawyers involved, which isn't the result I am seeking. After looking over my lease, I don't think I can dispute the debt.

My goal is for them to not report me to the credit agency's, not file a claim against my performance bond and to just let me work out a payment plan to get them their money.

Is there a way I can word that on the letter? Shouldn't I make some good faith effort to pay the debt so that the situation does not escalate?

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I'd take out the paragraph about the payment plan until you are on your feet. Right now you are disputing the charges, once you get that issue solved then you can talk payment arrangements with them.

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I'd take out the paragraph about the payment plan until you are on your feet. Right now you are disputing the charges, once you get that issue solved then you can talk payment arrangements with them.

ok I rewrote the letter, please tell me what you think;

Dear [apartment complex]:

I recently moved from my apartment because of an emergency situation with my 81 year old grandmother, who is chronically ill, that required me to move in and take care of her. My finances were strained due to this unexpected move.

Your office recently sent me a final account statement in the amount of $2,431.72. I dispute this debt. Your office told me that if the apartment were rented out before 2/29/08, the final bill would be adjusted. I hope that is still true.

I have many concerns with the high fees on this final account statement. Please provide me with receipts for everything you are charging me for. I should not be charged for normal "wear and tear" repairs or cleanings that a landlord would need to do whether I moved out early or not.

Also, I do not understand your statement on the final account statement you sent saying you will file a claim against my performance bond. That was not explained to me when I signed my lease nor at any time while I was living at [apartment complex]. I also can’t find anything about this in my lease. Please send me a copy of the performance bond and a contact number for them. I am requesting that you halt any further debt collection action that could be harmful to my credit and not to file a claim against my performance bond if one exists.

If there are any questions please feel free to contact me in writing at [my address].

Sincerely,

[me]

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I'm a little worried about agitating them enough that they get their lawyers involved, which isn't the result I am seeking. After looking over my lease, I don't think I can dispute the debt.

My goal is for them to not report me to the credit agency's, not file a claim against my performance bond and to just let me work out a payment plan to get them their money.

Is there a way I can word that on the letter? Shouldn't I make some good faith effort to pay the debt so that the situation does not escalate?

If you want to make a settlement...by all means do so. Still, you could settle and they can still report on your CR's. You need to protect yourself before you pay them. I would still dispute the charges.....atleast until they sent me a detail by detail list of what damages and charges they charged for.

When they do that......then you write the settlement letter. Get them to agree that if you pay...they don't report. Get it in writing b/c if it ain't written....it didn't happen.

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Update,

In january I requested details on the account, they sent an itemized list plus contracts I signed approving the costs

Later, I wrote a letter to the performance bond company requesting they not accept the account if its referred to them, they told me they couldn't do that.

in january I sent a letter to the apartment complex requesting payment arrangements of $60 a month,

i recieved no response from the apartment complex so I went ahead and sent a a $60 check

last week they sent the check back to me with a note saying they could not accept it because my account has been sent to collections.

They did not say who the collection agency is.

Today I mailed a letter today requesting the name of the collection agency, so that I can set up payment arrangements with them.

None of this is showing on my credit report YET, and I would like to avoid that happening.

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