Piscataway, NJ asked in Consumer Law and Landlord - Tenant for New Jersey

Q: My former landlord is sending a debt collector after we reached a settlement with the court and my case was dismissed.

My former landlord brought an eviction case against me. We brought a settlement to the court and I paid the money that we agreed upon. So no judgement was ever entered against me and the case was dismissed. I have already vacated the property.

Now he's claiming there's still a balance on my account because the settlement agreement didn't include the full amount of back rent. He's sending this to collections. I believe he wants to retaliate against me and try to damage to my credit because I complained about repairs and there were several code violations that were never fixed.

But my question is, do I have a defense against the debt collection agency? Or do I technically still owe all the rent even though I paid the money we agreed in the settlement?

2 Lawyer Answers
Matthew McKenna
Matthew McKenna
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Waukesha, WI

A: Contact a local consumer protection or debt defense attorney. It might come down to the actual wording of the settlement that was reached.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In your situation, if the settlement agreement was approved by the court and specifically addressed the amount of rent and any other obligations you were to fulfill, and you have complied with these terms, this agreement generally should stand as the final resolution of your obligations up to that point. It's crucial to review the terms of your settlement agreement to understand the scope of what was covered. If the agreement was meant to settle all outstanding rent and related disputes, and you fulfilled your part, then theoretically, you should have a defense against additional claims for rent during the period covered by the agreement.

If your former landlord is attempting to collect additional amounts that were not stipulated in the court-approved settlement, it might be considered an attempt to circumvent the court's decision. You might consider responding to the debt collection agency in writing, disputing the debt. It's important to include all relevant documentation, such as the settlement agreement, proof of payment, and any correspondence with your landlord regarding the settlement. This documentation can support your position that the debt claimed does not exist or is not enforceable.

Additionally, you may want to consult with a legal advisor to explore your options for responding to this claim. They can provide guidance on how to proceed based on your specific circumstances and the details of your settlement agreement. Taking prompt action is important to protect your credit and legal rights. Remember, your defense hinges on the specifics of the settlement agreement and your adherence to its terms.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.