If my old roommates and I have an old lease debt on our credit reports, can I haveit removed from myreport by paying my portion of the debt?

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If my old roommates and I have an old lease debt on our credit reports, can I haveit removed from myreport by paying my portion of the debt?

3 friends and I rented an apartment 7 years ago. About a year or so later 3 of them moved out after losing their jobs. The remaining friend and I paid rent as long as we could but had to move out with 3 months of the lease remaining. The balance of $2400 has been on all our credit reports ever since. I am working hard to clean up my credit and would love to get this debt off my report. Is there a way I could settle with the collection company for the portion of rent I owe (approximately $600 )? The other roommates do not care about this debt and are unwilling to pay on it. The company is hard to deal with.

Asked on July 30, 2011 North Carolina

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

When the 4 of you signed the lease, you became "jointly and severally liable". This means that 1 or all of you are responsible for the entire debt. You cannot apportion it. However, your creditor could (but this is unlikely). As a practical matter while you owe $2,600 the creditor may well be satisfied to settle for a lesser amount. And if the debt is 7 years old it may been sold to a third party debt collector; if this is the case then you will have an even a greater chance of success in reducing the settlement amount. They typically give deep discounts. Offer $450 and see what happens. You can then negotiate up, and may even end up at $650 (which is 1/4 of the full amount; what you are willing to pay anyway).

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

When the 4 of you signed the lease, you became "jointly and severally liable". This means that 1 or all of you are responsible for the entire debt. You cannot apportion it. However, your creditor could (but this is unlikely). As a practical matter while you owe $2,600 the creditor may well be satisfied to settle for a lesser amount. And if the debt is 7 years old it may been sold to a third party debt collector; if this is the case then you will have an even a greater chance of success in reducing the settlement amount. They typically give deep discounts. Offer $450 and see what happens. You can then negotiate up, and may even end up at $650 (which is 1/4 of the full amount; what you are willing to pay anyway).


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