Springfield, VA asked in Contracts for Maryland

Q: After an exit letter is sent, can a storage a storage company legally continue to invoice for payments.

In April 2020, I entered into a storage agreement contract with another person. I was the only one who made all of the payments for this account. During winter 2021, I sent an exit letter. The payments were stopped at that point. A few months ago, the company began to invoice me, has charged all of the rent since winter 2021 and has attempted to secure the money from my bank account. They have not been successful because of changes in the account. The other party did not send an exit letter. Weeks ago, an owner from the storage company called. They explained that since I signed the contract, I am responsible for payments during the gap in time. I requested a certified letter that stated what was stated during the discussion. They agreed and claimed that was not a problem to send the letter. A certified letter has not arrived. I have been invoiced for the next month. Wondering about suggestions why the certified letter has not been sent and what direction to proceed towards.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: You need to look at the lease agreement with the storage facility. I am guessing (since you do not state as much) that you and one other person both co-signed the lease and are therefore jointly liable for paying the rent. In such a case, the landlord can choose to sue just one or both of you for what is owed, and may collect the entire judgment against one or both of you up until the full judgment is satisfied. To the extent that you end up paying more than your fair share of the rent, you have a suit for contribution against your co-signer, but that is between you and that person. It is not a defense to the storage facility's suit against you. When you co-sign a lease, one co-signer cannot unilaterally terminate the lease and leave if the other co-lessee remains in the unit and does not vacate. If the lease allowed you to terminate upon 30 days notice, then that would require that both give that notice and return the storage unit clear of contents in broom-clean condition at the end of those 30 days, and without your lock on the unit. Obviously, that is not what happened. The storage facility can charge rent through the end of the term of the lease if it is not yet expired, and then no further. Until they have free possession of the unit they can charge rent as well. You need to determine when it is that your co-tenant vacated the unit, and when the storage facility was able and aware to retake possession. Unfortunately, it sounds like they already sued you and obtained a judgment, and it may be too late to contest that now unless you allege you were never legally served with the suit action and have a basis to vacate the judgment by filing a motion. The judgment is not going away. It is vaild for 12 years from the date of entry, and can be renewed for another 12 years. It earns post-judgment interest at 10% per year, so the amount is only going to grow larger. You either keep dodging the collection lawyer and hope to never have assets seized or your wages garnished before the judgment expires, or you settle the debt, or you try to vacate the judgment (and go to trial and possibly still lose), or you file for bankruptcy and discharge it.

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