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2007-12-11 09:50:00

Legal Alert: Collection Limitation Upheld by Court

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a body of law that governs the activities of third party debt collectors. As applied to tenant-landlord law, when a landlord or property manager assigns a collection case against a former tenant to an outside firm or agency that former tenant becomes a "debtor" as defined by the FDCPA. Communications between a debt collector and debtor are subject to the highly technical requirements of the FDCPA. The FDCPA includes very specific and onerous requirements concerning the nature and content of any communication between a third party debt collector and the debtor.

In an important recent case heard in the United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit) entitled Guerrero v. RJM Acquisitions, LLC, the court held that communications between a debt collector and an attorney of the debtor were not subject to FDCPA provisions. The court found that a communication directed to a debtor's attorney, without a threat to contact the debtor directly, was not actionable under the Act.

This decision is good ruling for collectors who pursue unpaid rent for landlords in that Guerrero does not place an unnecessary and cumbersome additional requirement upon debt collectors when working through disputes with opposing counsel. The common-sense reasoning in this case is consistent with the consumer protection policy underlying the Act.

(For more information, please contact Patrick O'Laughlin, managing partner of our Collection Division. We specialize in only collecting debts incurred by former tenants, either through a judgment or non-judgment process. Patrick can be reached by calling 800-575-1770.)

T(his legal alert is for general information purposes only. Before acting be sure to receive legal advice from our office. If you have any questions about this alert, please contact the nearest KTS office in your location. For past alerts and articles on other related topics, please consult the resource library section of this web site. )

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