Welcome Consumerist readers! For a followup, check this entry.
So I made a stupid mistake. A mistake that someone who knows finance and who actually has a law degree shouldn’t make.
I didn’t get something in writing. And now it may be coming back to bite me.
Brief background: I bought my house in February and moved in March. My apartment lease was up in September. Prior to house hunting, I contacting my leasing office to find out the penalties for breaking the lease. The rental agreement just said that I was liable for actual damages, which meant they could come after me for the full rent, but I knew that others had broken their leases without facing that penalty. I was told that I had to give 60 days notice and pay a one month penalty.
Okay. Not too bad. Definitely doable.
So I bought the house. Though we planned to move in March, I didn’t give notice until the day after we closed in February, just in case the purchase fell through. There had been enough blips in the process that I didn’t want to put all my eggs in one basket and then find myself without a home. I put in the form and went on my way.
Then we got a letter telling us we owed rent (and pet fees!) through the end of September as penalty. Great. Of course, I flipped out a bit, but once I had calmed down, I went in and talked to one of the accounts managers. I presented my case, told him that I had relied on the information that I was given and asked what we could do. He responded that since I had been a good tenant, always paying rent early, and because I wasn’t asking to be immediately let out of the lease but offering a reasonable alternative, that he would accept it. I asked him to get me a letter to this effect, but… it never happened. I shouldn’t have let it drop, but the moving got the best of me and I sort of forgot about it.
Last week, I received a letter indicating that we owed a bit over $7500 left on the lease (this time not including the pet fees, thankfully) and that I needed to pay within 10 days or it would be sent to collections. I immediately called and was told to provide the information in writing and that they would research and get back to me. So I laid out my case and now I wait.
I’m lucky in that I do have $7500 available. It’s going to take some shifting of funds, but it’s in the emergency fund and I can get to it. I just don’t feel like this is the sort of emergency that I should use the money for. It’s a stupid mistake on my part. I’m just hoping that it goes my way. Even if I can get out of paying some of the money, I will be happy.
Lesson learned. Get everything in writing!
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.