Here is an interesting case we recently resolved for a Client. Client entered into a lease with a major corporate landlord, operating numerous large apartment complexes throughout the State of Florida. The lease had a sneaky provision in it requiring that a tenant needs to give 60 days' written notice prior to the expiration of the lease that they are moving out. The lease punished tenants who fail to give the 60 days' move-out notice by hitting them with $3,135 in “liquidated damages.” The entire scheme is an unethical scheme by hedge fund and investment fund landlords to squeeze tenants for an extra month of rent while also crushing regular people who have done nothing wrong.
Here is a breakdown of the relevant facts:
- Client entered into lease agreement on 10/01/2020.
- Lease term is 1 year.
- Lease provision requires tenant gives at least 60 days written notice of termination if their intention is to move out at end of term.
- If they fail to give 60 days' notice and move out they have to pay $3,135.00 “liquidated damages.”
- Client moved out on or about 9/30/2021.
- Client received notice that Corporate Landlord was reporting that they owed $3,135.00 on credit report.
- Client never received any notice they owed a debt.
- Client called debt collector reporting on their credit report but they refused to speak to Client unless they gave their social security number so Client refused and was referred back to the Corporate Landlord.
- Client spoke to Corporate Landlord who explained money was owed for not giving 60 days' notice and referred Client to Corporate Landlord's debt collection lawyer.
- Client called Corporate Landlord's debt collection lawyer and spoke with staff member that confirmed money was owed and they attempted to collect money via credit card payment over the phone.
- Client refused to pay and told them they would call back.
- After the phone call, Client never received any follow up collection letters from Corporate Landlord debt collection lawyer, which is require under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act.
Client called our office and we were able to confirm enough of the Client's story to pursue this case further. What the landlord didn't know was that when a Landlord attempts to rip off a tenant with one of these 60 day written notice provisions they are required by Florida law to send their own notice at least 15 days prior to the end of the 60 day notice window. The Landlord notice must clearly tell the tenant what is required and what will happen if they don't send in the 60-day notice. This is found under Florida statute 83.575 (termination of Tenancy with Specific Duration).
Fortunately, for our Client, the Corporate Landlord couldn't be bothered to send any such notice. I am sure that the Corporate Landlord has been doing this for years, collecting thousands of dollars while also reporting on people's credit, without ever once giving legal notice.
Long story short, Florida Consumer Lawyers filed a lawsuit against the Corporate Landlord and their debt collection lawyer for violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Florida Consumer Collections Protections Act (FCCPA) and we were able to win a significant amount of money for the client, while also having all the negative information removed from their credit. Best news of all is that this was done on a contingency fee basis so the Client did not need to pay any fees, instead we collected our fees as part of the resolution of the case.
The bottom line is that debt collections is a dirty business and often times companies seeking to collect from you run afoul of both federal and state law. If someone is attempting to collect from you then instead of paying you should call us first. Suing debt collectors is what we do.