Apartment sent me to collections without notice

My apartment sent me to collections without notice, is this okay or illegal from your landlord? You probably believed that your debt was settled after making a deposit. And you provided the company with all possible means of contact, yet they never notified you regarding any outstanding amount. Unexpectedly, a collection agency is now pursuing you, and you haven’t even had an opportunity to review the bill in question. This lack of information has deprived you of the ability to assess whether or not you should dispute it. Such practices appear dubious and unjust, right? So, are these actions legally permissible, or has your landlord bypassed the necessary steps before initiating collections? Let’s figure that out.

Apartment sent me to collections without notice

Apartment sent me to collections without notice


If the apartment complex failed to provide you with an accounting of your deposit within 31 days of the termination of your rental agreement, they may owe you the full amount of the deposit. You may have to consult a reliable landlord-tenant attorney to understand your rights in this situation.

You are entitled to request a detailed breakdown of the bill. Take immediate action to dispute the debt in writing with the collection agency and demand an itemized and verified account of the debt following the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). If the collection agency is unable or unwilling to provide the requested information, you may not be responsible for the debt.


Read also: some tenants fake the pay stubs

What you can do in this situation

1. Check your credit report

If you receive calls from debt collectors regarding a debt you believe to be up to date, check your credit reports to see if the debt has been reported to the credit bureaus. You have to address the situation before it reaches the credit bureaus for an opportunity to fix it.

You can obtain a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus by visiting It is a website sponsored by the federal government and the only authorized source for free annual credit reports from all three bureaus. You can also obtain your credit scores from all three bureaus for a fee. Equifax also provides up to 6 free credit reports per year, which can be useful in checking for the removal of delinquent payments after making payments.

If your account is sent to debt collections by your apartment and appears on one or more of your credit reports, your credit score will be negatively affected. This can make it more challenging to:

  • rent an apartment
  • secure employment or
  • make significant purchases such as a car, house, or other expensive items.

If your apartment sent you to collections without notice but has not yet appeared on your credit report, there may still be time to pay off the debt and prevent it from being reported.

If you have reason to believe that you do not owe your landlord or that it is not yours, to begin with, send a written request to the collections stating that you “dispute” the debt. You can send a written request to the debt collector asking for more information about the debt.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has prepared sample letters¹ you can use to respond to debt collectors. These letters guide you on how to request information, establish limits on communication, or protect your rights. You need a copy of any letter you send for your records.

2. Know the law yourself

It helps to understand the legal framework surrounding this issue. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)² requires financial institutions to notify you whenever they report negative information to credit bureaus. However, this law does not apply to certain entities such as cell phone carriers, utility companies, and hospitals, which also report to credit bureaus. Furthermore, financial institutions have a window of up to 30 days after reporting negative information to inform you about their actions. This makes it challenging to take preemptive measures before the negative impact appears on your credit report.

If you are experiencing harassment from debt collectors through letters or phone calls, be aware of your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Debt collectors are prohibited from engaging in belittlement, threats, or using offensive language.³ They cannot falsely claim to seize your property if you fail to pay, nor can they contact you before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. local time. You have the right to request that they do not contact you at your workplace, and in certain cases, you can seek a cease-and-desist order. However, note that the FDCPA does not shield you from having a bill sent to debt collection without prior notification.

Any debt collector who contacts you regarding a debt sent by your landlord must provide specific information about it. This information should include:

  1. Name of the creditor.
  2. Amount owed.
  3. Notification that you have the right to dispute the debt, and if you fail to dispute it within 30 days, the debt collector will assume the debt is valid.
  4. Assurance that if you dispute the debt in writing within 30 days, the debt collector will verify the debt.
  5. Confirmation that if you request the name and address of the original creditor within 30 days (if different from the current creditor), the debt collector will provide that information.

If the debt collector fails to provide the required information during their initial contact, they are obligated to send you a written notice containing that information within 5 days after the initial contact.⁴

You have 30 days to dispute the debt or any portion of it from the moment you receive the necessary information from the debt collector. Once you dispute the debt in writing, the collection is prohibited from calling or contacting you to collect the debt or the disputed portion until they have provided written verification of the debt to you. Make you fight the collections in writing to have the debt collector provide you with the verification.

For proper documentation, include the date on your letter. Make a photocopy of the letter for your records, and send the original to the debt collector. Per experts, you should send the letter via certified mail. Pay for a return receipt so that you obtain proof that the debt collector received your letter. Alternatively, you can fax the letter, but make sure to keep the confirmation receipt as evidence of transmission.

3. Fight any incorrect bill

If you have been sent to collections without notice from your landlord, you have the right to dispute it. You simply file a dispute with the credit bureaus. In your dispute, state that you were never notified of the debt. The credit bureaus are obligated to remove the negative mark from your credit report until they can verify the debt or determine that you do not owe the disputed amount. You can fight the bill by mail or online. If you choose to send a written notice, ensure that it includes the following details:

  • Your contact information, including your name, address, and phone number.
  • The report confirmation number on your credit report, if applicable.
  • A concise and clear explanation of the erroneous information and a thorough explanation of why it is incorrect.
  • The name and contact information of the creditor, as well as your account number with them.
  • A copy of the page from your credit report that contains the incorrect entry, with the entry highlighted.

When mailing your letter, address it to the appropriate department and send it via certified mail to have proof of receipt. If you decide to file your dispute online, you will only need to provide information about the error, as the credit bureau will already have your other details on file. Also, regularly check your junk or spam folder until you receive a response.

When you dispute an item on your credit report, the item cannot be considered for inclusion on your report until it has been verified by the credit bureau. As a result, the disputed item will not impact your credit score until the investigation is completed.

If you dispute an account that has gone to collections, the credit bureau has 30 days to investigate the matter. They will review the documentation you provide along with the dispute. In some cases, the information you provide may be sufficient for the bureau to remove the disputed entry from your credit report and resolve the issue. However, in many cases, the credit bureau will need to contact the creditor for additional information. If you submit additional documentation during this period, the deadline for the investigation is extended by 15 days. Once the investigation is finalized, the credit bureau must notify you within 5 days. If the error is corrected, they will provide you with an updated credit report free of charge.

4. Pay your debt

If the apartment sent you to collections without notice but you owe, try to pay it in full if you are capable. However, if you do pay a debt that has already gone to collections, it will be marked as settled or paid in full on your credit history, but it may or may not be possible to have it removed.

5. Pay for delete

In some cases, collections may offer to remove or delete negative information from your credit report if you fully settle your outstanding debts. This practice is known as “pay for delete”. The effect of pay for delete on your credit score depends on the credit-scoring model. Older credit-scoring models tend to score paid-off collection accounts negatively, while newer models do not. Therefore, even if you pay off a debt that has been sent to collections, the negative information may still appear on your credit history, and your FICO score may be negatively affected. However, if the collection uses one of the newer credit-scoring models, your payment in full may not have a significant impact on your credit report.

Read also: ways your landlord can get in trouble with you

How to report the debt collector

If you suspect that a debt collector has engaged in unethical or illegal practices, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Submit your complaint to the CFPB initiates a review process where they will assess the details and forward it to the relevant company. Once the company responds, the CFPB will publish your complaint in its database. If the CFPB is unable to resolve the issue to your satisfaction, you can file a complaint with either the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) or your state’s attorney general.

Read also: alternatively, hide from the collections


1. What should I do when a debt collector contacts me? CFPB

2. Fair Credit Reporting Act. FTC

3. Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. FTC

4. What information does a debt collector have to give me about a debt they’re trying to collect from me? CFPB

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