Even in a healthy economy, residential rent receivables written off as uncollectible by operators remain at high levels. Rents and damages sent for collections, according to the National Apartment Association’s Survey, range from $79-$103 per unit per year—or 0.5 percent to 0.8 percent of Gross Potential Rent, depending on property type.
Renters’ debt disputes are more complex and frequent compared to a decade ago. Savvy ex-residents rely on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to ask for evidence of the debt and dispute amounts owed. Consumer attorneys and Credit Repair Organizations increasingly deploy technology to supercharge FDCPA and FCRA challenges to property managers’ debt claims. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) provides a new avenue—and ally—for debtors to complain about lease charges and call-blocking technology enables consumers to duck debt-related contacts.
To fend off these challenges, a well-tuned collaboration between a third-party collection agency and a property manager is essential to maximizing recovery of what is owed—and minimizing avoidable litigation risk. Liquidation recovery and litigation exposure can improve by a factor of six to 10 times between well-run property management firms and those with lax operations.
Here are eight collections best practices for rental property managers:
Integrating the placement of accounting detail and documents from client property management software(s) to agency regularly increases the number of opened accounts, speeds time to placement and reduces inaccuracy and incompleteness, resulting in higher debt collection recovery.
Provide documentation at placement to support the balance sought
A signed lease and application, identification of the debtor, Final Account Statement, repair invoices to support claimed damages, and move-in/move-out inspection reports and photos—this documentation is easiest to obtain right after move-out.
Meet with the resident at move-out to review charges (ideally)
A move-out review and itemization of charges in the Final Account Statement provided to the ex-tenant can ease subsequent recovery of unpaid balances. If the tenant skips out, ensure that the Final Account Statement is sent to the tenant’s provided address to give adequate notice for payment before placing the account in collections.
Damages demand documentation
As a rule of thumb, the documentation a property manager must provide under state security deposit law to withhold from a security deposit (e.g., repair invoices) should also be available to support the damages in a debt claim. Damages owed should be more than normal wear and tear.
Follow the lease
For early exits before the lease is up, ensure that if the lease allows to charge for unpaid rent until the unit is re-rented, that the date of re-renting is included with the placement.
Operators’ charge-off policies matter
Is the property operator charging for full flooring cost replacement for a short-term tenant who moved into a property with aged carpet and tile? Are additional charges for HOA-required fees added at move-out—but not clearly specified in writing at move-in? Make sure that fees to be charged are identified in writing at the beginning of the lease as a tenant responsibility.
Ensure tenant authorizations are broad enough
A well-tuned application or rental agreement makes clear that the landlord has permissible purpose under the FCRA to pull consumer reports for lease-related purposes that include both collections as well as move-in tenant screening. Good leases also make clear that the tenant agrees to accept email, mobile and text communications and to update provided contacts.
After placement, let the agency handle it
Communications with ex-tenants and guarantors who are represented by counsel can be a problem. When a debtor is represented by counsel, communicate this to the agency—forwarding the agency the attorney’s Letter of Representation and inquiries. Credit Repair Organizations may ask an unwitting property manager to delete credit reporting in exchange for settling the debt. Forward these communications too to the agency to resolve.
The road ahead? Technology will continue to be both sword and shield in rental collections: creating new paths for consumer challenges, but easing document transfer through no-cost collection agency integrations. Well-run rental operators in clear dialogue with their collection agency, when they follow best practices in their collections process, can optimize debt recovery and limit litigation exposure.
An attorney in the Washington, D.C. area, Jay Harris is Vice President of Fair Collections & Outsourcing. Elaine Owens is a Senior Account & Marketing Manager for FCO in Dallas. Each has more than 20 years’ experience advising property management firms across the U.S. on operating best practices. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Credit360 Now Providing Credit Repair Services in Orlando
One of the nation’s finest in personal and business credit solutions has expanded its services in Florida.
“We are very excited to now offer our life-changing services in Orlando,” said Andre Coakley, Founder & CEO of Credit360, a company with an elite team of credit experts that know exactly what techniques will assist individuals and businesses with increasing their credit scores to meet their goals. “We are here to help you achieve your optimal credit profile by making the credit repair process convenient, individualized, and effective.”
Credit360’s specialized credit repair processes, credit expertise, and guaranteed customer service, company representatives say, make it the best in the industry.
Coakley explained that Credit360 has had the opportunity to help thousands of Americans correct their credit reports. In fact, Credit360, Coakley stressed, is a company that puts its money where its mouth is and only charges a fee when items are deleted, removed, or repaired from individuals’ credit reports.
“With our services, you will no longer have to use other expensive credit repair companies that charge monthly and don’t even produce results,” Coakley promised, before adding, “We are so confident in our advanced disputing tactics that we will allow you to pay for your deletions after you actually see our results and we even give you a 100 percent money-back guarantee to back it up just so you can relax.”
Coakley went on to reiterate that Credit360 is an elite team of credit experts that know exactly what techniques will assist customers with increasing their credit scores to meet their goals.
“With our services, most of our clients see deletions within the first 45 days of enrollment and usually see an average increase of 93 points throughout their program cycle,” Coakley said.
About Credit 360
Credit360 was established to assist individuals in restoring their personal credit and in offering a complete line of business credit solutions. Credit360 is a financial services firm specializing in credit restoration and business consulting services.
10664 SW 186th Street
Miami, FL 33157
Source: Credit360 Credit Repair
Credit Saint Credit Repair Review
Today’s credit repair industry is full of paid services, some more expensive than others. Credit Saint clearly falls under the more expensive category, with initial work fees reaching an astounding $195 for premium-tier service. But is the cost worth it? In our review, we’ll break down package options, service guarantees, and more to help you decide.
- Choose from three credit repair plans: Pick the package and price that makes the most sense for your personal situation.
- Most packages include credit monitoring: Two of Credit Saint’s three plans include Experian credit monitoring.
- Offers a 90-day money-back guarantee: If Credit Saint is unable to remove any inaccurate items from your report in the first 90 days, you’ll get all your fees refunded.
- Hard to find pricing online: You need to fill out a form with your contact information before being shown plan pricing.
- High initial work fees: First work fees range from $99 to $195, depending on the plan.
- Limited monthly disputes with low-tier plans: The entry-level plan includes just five disputes per billing cycle.
- Sparse online resources: There isn’t much educational information available on Credit Saint’s website.
- Not available in all states: Credit Saint is unable to serve residents of 11 states as listed on the company’s signup form.
Types of Services
Credit Saint’s services are packaged into three membership levels that vary, depending on how aggressive you need to be in order to remove inaccuracies from your credit report. This is beneficial as it lets you choose a customized plan that matches your needs without overpaying for services you don’t want.
The entry-level credit repair plan from Credit Saint includes five disputes of inaccurate information on your credit report per month. These can be applied to any type of information except hard inquiries, which are only covered by upgraded plans. You’ll also get an initial credit score analysis and an ongoing credit score tracker to keep an eye on your progress. Both are accessible through a client web portal.
Credit Saint’s mid-tier package includes everything included in the Credit Polish plan with a few extras. You’ll get twice as many credit inquiries; 10 are included per month, and you can use these to have inaccurate hard inquiries addressed. The package also includes Experian credit monitoring.
The most aggressive credit repair plan offered by Credit Saint is also the only one that includes unlimited disputes every billing period. With this membership, you can also ask the company to send cease and desist letters on your behalf. This can be a solution to stop unwanted phone calls related to accounts currently in collections. Of course, you’ll also have access to all services included in the Credit Polish and Credit Remodel packages.
Getting phone calls about unpaid debts you can’t afford to repay can be stressful and frustrating. Many credit repair companies advertise cease and desist letters as a way to legally prevent lenders and collections agencies from continuing to make contact. While this might sound like an easy solution, it’s not quite that simple. Once these companies can no longer contact you, they may jump straight to filing a lawsuit. Make sure you discuss both the pros and cons with your credit repair company before allowing them to send cease and desist letters on your behalf.
|Credit Polish||Credit Remodel||Clean Slate|
|Credit score analysis||√||√||√|
|Credit score tracker||√||√||√|
|Hard inquiry disputes||√||√|
|Experian credit monitoring||√||√|
|Cease and desist letters||√|
Some credit repair companies make supplemental services available in the form of optional add-ons. Since Credit Saint packages all of its solutions into a range of all-inclusive plans, the company doesn’t offer any further options to tailor services.
Credit Saint customers can get ahold of the company via phone or email, although hours are more flexible than most competitors, with phone lines open from 9 a.m. to p.m. EST on weekdays. If you need help outside of these hours, you can also log into the Credit Saint customer portal 24 hours a day. Here, you’ll find your credit score tracker and initial score analysis for easy reference.
Former Credit Saint customers give the company average ratings with some mixed reviews. The company has an A rating with the Better Business Bureau, although more than 35 complaints are on record and the average review score sits at just 2.67 stars. With that said, there are no complaints recorded with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Google customer ratings are decidedly better with an average of 3.9 stars.
While online reviews should sometimes be taken with a grain of salt, they can be useful in spotting trends among former customer opinions. Many of Credit Saint’s positive reviews make note of exceptionally friendly customer service agents. On the other hand, the most common complaint comes from customers who say the company didn’t fulfill its 90-day money-back guarantee.
If you have a complaint about the services of a credit repair company, you can file a complaint with the FTC or call 877-FTC-HELP.
Since Credit Saint doesn’t lock customers into contracts, all services are offered on a month-to-month basis, allowing you to cancel anytime without penalty. All you need to do is contact a representative via phone or email to request a cancellation before your next billing date.
One of Credit Saint’s most unique points of attraction is its 90-day money-back service guarantee. According to this promise, the company vows that if it is unable to remove a single negative item from your report within the first 90 days of service, you can ask to have all fees paid up to that point returned.
Customer complaint data shows that many former Credit Saint clients have been unsuccessful in collecting a 90-day refund they felt they deserved. Before signing an agreement with Credit Saint or any credit repair company that advertises a service guarantee, make sure you get a clear explanation in writing of the exact results you can expect by which date. This can help eliminate uncertainty should you need to ask for your money back.
There are two components to Credit Repair’s pricing structure. The first is an upfront fee that covers the initial work period, including an in-depth review of your credit report and an initial credit score analysis. Then, ongoing services are charged on a monthly basis according to the plan you selected.
This fee structure is fairly standard for the credit repair industry, although fees are markedly higher than average. The $195 first work fee for the Clean Slate plan is the highest we came across in our reviews of more than 15 credit repair companies.
|Credit Polish||Credit Remodel||Clean Slate|
|First work fee||$99||$99||$19|
The Competition: Credit Saint vs. The Credit Pros
Our review of the credit repair industry found Credit Saint to be one of the most expensive paid credit repair options currently available. To see whether the cost is worth it, we compared Credit Saint to The Credit Pros, the competitor with the most similar pricing structure.
Like Credit Saint, The Credit Pros offers three tiered service packages, although the latter also makes a non-credit repair option available that includes just credit monitoring for $19 per month. Each company offers a similar array of services across their three core plan levels, but The Credit Pros makes more services available at lower tiers. For example, the cheapest plan includes credit monitoring, which Credit Saint only offers with upgraded packages.
The Credit Pros also includes several services with its plans that Credit Saint doesn’t provide at all. These include identity theft monitoring, financial planning tools, and a prescription medication discount program. Overall, we’d consider The Credit Pros a better value.
|Credit Saint||The Credit Pros|
|Services Offered||Credit repair, monitoring||Credit repair, monitoring, identity theft protection, financial planning|
|Customer Service Touchpoints||Phone, email, client portal||Phone, email, client portal|
|Upfront Fee||$99 to $195||$119 to $149|
|Monthly Fee||$79.99 to $119.99||$69 to $149|
Credit Saint’s graded packages let customers choose their own approach to credit repair at a price point they feel comfortable with. The company includes more services than most competitors, offering in-house credit monitoring and the option to send cease and desist letters to debt collectors. With that said, the service offering falls short of justifying Credit Saint’s sky-high prices. The good news is that a customer-friendly money-back guarantee means you won’t be at a total loss should you agree to these fees and fail to get results.
How We Review Credit Repair Companies
Our credit repair reviews take an extremely critical look at the credit repair industry, one that is notorious for leading customers astray with false promises and overpriced services. We assess the quantity and quality of services offered by each company, including their credit repair solutions and additional services like credit monitoring and debt management. We compare these services to listed prices to determine value, rewarding any companies that protect customers with a money-back service guarantee. Finally, we take a deep dive into customer review data and analyses from third parties like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Better Business Bureau.
Learn more: Read our full Credit Repair Review Methodology here.
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