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Mom Skipped Out on the Lease and Collectors Are Chasing Me

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Dear Steve,

I am a young adult that is trying to establish credit. When I was 18 years of age I stayed with my mother and signed the lease as an occupant, because I was of age. Therefore, I was held responsible for any damages or anything that could happen to the apartment.

My mother skipped out on the lease and now Rent Recovery is charging me $1,700 for breaking the lease. I have recently been turned down jobs and credit due to this affecting me horribly. I would like to stay positive and think that there is something that I can do... *sigh*

Is there any way that I can get this off of my credit? If I pay this balance, can it be removed from my credit? What are my options? Can anything be done?

"Sunshine"

Dear Sunshine,

It is always unfortunate to hear about situations like this. In your case it appears your mother either asked you to, or you were required to, sign the lease as an adult. That appears to have left you on the hook for the debt with the landlord.

I can appreciate this matter is worrisome and disturbing. Ultimately this is a matter between you and your mother. I'm curious why she has not stepped-up to be the protective parent here and not leave you in this jam?

But in my experience over the years with similar issues, typically the parent has some problems or demons they are fighting which lead to them making really bad choices, like this one. Sometimes the kids get hurt financially as a result.

If your mother is not going to help you to repay the money which you appear to agree is due, then this will rest on your shoulders as a co-signer.

You could always turn around and go after your mother for the money due but that almost never happens by a child or family member. If that's something you want to investigate, talk to a lawyer who is licensed in your state. You should also see a lawyer who is licensed in your state if you feel you have no obligation under the lease to be responsible for the debt.

I imagine you are still in your early years of trying to establish credit and this issue is bringing you down. Alone it may not be the sole reason for your job prospects. The majority of employers say they do not use credit alone as a determination in hiring.

It is also unlikely that the creditor will remove the negative mark upon paying. Your credit report should contain a true and accurate reflection of your credit history and just because an item is negative does not mean it is inaccurate and should be removed.

The game plan here should be to either come to a settlement agreement with the creditors over this rent and pay back a percentage of the amount due as payment in full or you may also agree to pay the debt in full to resolve it as well. The amount not paid and the delinquent account will appear on your credit report for up to 7.5 years from the time this was first reported as delinquent.

The real underlying problem with your credit is that it seems you suffer from a lack of good credit to bring your credit score up. Think about your credit report like a report card. Using the report card analogy, if you wanted to bring up your GPA you would need to earn some better grades to do it. It is the same with your credit report. If you want to bring your score up you need to start having new and good credit reported about you.

It is actually ridiculously easy to bring a bad credit score up by applying a smart strategy and some time. Just follow this simple step-by-step strategy. If you deal with the past due debt and follow the simple steps for building good credit this issue will be behind you before you know it.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.

Big Hug!

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