Invitation Homes wants Kevin Shaw to pay $3,600 for breaking the lease on his apartment, even though it told him he could do it. Now, a year and a half later, it’s sending his case to a collection agency. Can this late bill be fixed?
I need your help with a collection agency. I rented a house through Invitation Homes, a national property management company. When we contacted them to let them know we were leaving the lease early, they approved the request. They said as long as I had a zero balance that I would receive my deposit back.
I received my full deposit, and I have emails from Invitation Homes that I have a zero balance — and didn’t think any more about it.
More than a year and a half later, I received a collections notice. It said I was charged a $3,600 fee to break the lease. This, despite the fact that the company told us me I had no balance or charges. I also received my deposit. No other notice was sent, and they automatically sent me to collections and are damaging my credit. Can you help me? — Kevin Shaw, Satellite Beach, Fla.
Invitation Homes should never have sent your bill to a collection agency. It had agreed to waive the fees associated with breaking your lease, and a polite reminder of its promises should have been enough to fix this problem.
Fortunately, you kept a thorough paper trail of the email correspondence between you and Invitation Homes. It left no doubt that you’d been let off the hook and that your bill was bogus.
This is a fairly common problem with collection agencies. Even when a company makes a billing error, the collection agency just keeps on going. It’s as if the client (the company) and the agency stop talking — or maybe, the agency stops listening. Anyway, you shouldn’t have been expected to pay another $3,600 to get the bill collectors off your back.
The best way to fix this is to stop dealing with the lower-level customer service agents and to appeal to someone higher up the food chain. Invitation Homes is a national, publicly-traded company, and you can find the names of its executives on its website.
I would have started with a cordial email to Mark Solls, the company’s chief legal officer, inviting him to review your case. The email convention at Invitation Homes is firstname.lastname@example.org. So Solls’ would be email@example.com. His fax number, available from the company’s public SEC filings, is (972) 892-0382.
I contacted Invitation Homes on your behalf. It canceled the $3,600 bill and called off the collection agency.