If a rental company is trying to place a debt onto my boyfriend’s credit, how can we dispute it through court with the actual company not the creditors?

A rental company is trying to place a debt onto my boyfriend’s credit for late fees and a fee for not giving enough notice when we moved. The issue is the 12 month lease is written incorrectly and the dates are wrong; it’s written with 13 months but clearly states 12 month lease. We have receipts for all the months they tried to put late fees on us for late rent when it was on time. we are disputing it with the credit company but believe it may have to be taken care in court. How would we go about doing this and is there anything we can actually do?

Asked on June 25, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you want to make sure this does not get onto your boyfriend's credit and the credit reporting companies are not listening to you, then you would sue, seeking a "declaratory judgment" (or court determination) that he does not owe the money; you would seek to prove that the lease is actually a 12-month lease, using the lease itself (e.g. the section where it says 12 month lease), testimony, and correspondence between your boyfriend and the landlord about the length of the rental, etc. You could also try to recover  legal fees. You could then send copies of the judgment to the credit reporting agencies; while seeking the declaratory judgment, you could also seek an injunction (court order) directing the landlord to tell the credit rating agencies that there was no bad debt and the money was never owed in the first place.

Alternately, it may make sense to pay the amount under protest (send it with a letter stating that you dispute that you owe it and will take legal action to recover it) and then sue the landlord in small claims court to get the money back. The disadvantage of this is that you have given the money to the landlord and are now in the  position of trying to get it back; the advantages are that it avoids damage to credit scores and also a small claims lawsuit is less expensive and easier than bringing an action for a declaratory judgment.


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