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What should my next step be?


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I have a collection account on my files from an apartment I rented between 2004 and 2008. I requested validation and received a copy of a lease agreement which I did sign, along with a copy of a "Security Deposit Transmittal", which is not signed by anyone.

I'm writing to ask for advice on what my next steps should be, given the story behind this particular situation:

I signed a 12-month lease in December 2007 with the property rental company (OC). In the Spring of 2008, my boyfriend (now husband) and I decided to move in together. We both planned very carefully for this important event in our lives.

I spoke with the on-site property manager, Brenda, about the timing, since I knew I was in a 12-month lease. The company she worked for had recently bought the apartment complex from a previous firm, and were doing some major upgrades to the apartments. They had been unable to do my unit, since I was a single mother of 3, and could not give up my kitchen for more than a day at a time.

Brenda told me that if I paid though October 2008 and forfeited my security deposit, the remaining 3 months of rent would be waived, and I would be allowed terminate the lease without further penalty. She told me they would allow it because they were motivated to upgrade my unit and begin claiming a higher rent for it.

Being naive, I did not get any of Brenda's statements in writing. I'd dealt with her before with other landlord matters, and had no reason not to trust her. When we vacated and I turned in my keys in late October, I thought I would have to sign something, but was surprised when she told me no, there was nothing to sign.

I've discovered through talking with previous neighbors at the complex that Brenda has since been fired.

The lease agreement states that early termination penalty is 2 months rent, plus $450, plus forfeiture of the security deposit. This is what they are charging me with, and the amount adds up to the numbers on my credit files, and on the Security Deposit Transmittal document.

I had never seen this security deposit transmittal document before receiving it in the validation request. Does it mean anything in court? My biggest worry in delaying or fighting this is the ability of the DC to obtain a judgment.

My second biggest worry is not being able to get this taken off of my report. I've read a couple of articles about some DC's not agreeing to PFD, because their clients rely on accuracy of credit reports. This DC National Credit Systems seems to offer services exclusively for property rental firms. I'm not sure if they would agree to a PFD because of this, and I want to co-apply with my husband on a mortgage in 12 to 24 months.

I'm considering 2 options for my next step:

1.) submit a settlement offer (admitting no liability, and asking for a PFD @ 25%).

2.) Sharing my story with the DC and OC in writing, sort of a "Goodwill Letter". I rented there for 4 years, and had been a renter there when the new company purchased the properties, and always paid my rent. I even signed this lease agreement 2 months before its term started (signed it 12/2007 for a 2/2008-1/2009 term).

Which should I do? Or is there a 3rd option I'm not considering?

Edited by validationnoob
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