Fast Answers to Your Most Pressing Debt Collection and Credit Reporting Questions
Can a collection company call multiple times per day? Can a creditor really increase your interest rate if you cannot pay your bills? If you have a question about debt collection, credit reporting, or any other issues related to consumer law, our FAQ section might provide the answer you need right now. If it doesn't, contact us using the contact form or the toll-free number and we'll answer it for you within 24 hours!
- Page 1
Why is base legal refusing to help me with my housing issue?
One of the perks of serving in the military is having access to free legal services. With offices on most bases across the country, military attorneys (judge advocates, or JAG) are available to help servicemembers with a myriad of legal issues, from writing a will to representing a servicemember in a divorce or legal separation. In some cases, the legal assistance office on your base can also help with housing or landlord problems, but only if your housing is not managed by a private contractor. Unfortunately, less than two percent of base housing is owned and managed by the Department of Defense (DoD); the remaining 98 percent is privatized and your base legal office will not be able to represent you in a dispute.
Tenants Get Lost in Deal Between Military and Private Landlords
Because the military has contracts with the property management companies running its base housing, it would be a conflict of interest for military lawyers to sue landlords. This arrangement hurts servicemembers in multiple ways. While state or local law may allow a tenant to withhold rent until a repair is made, servicemembers do not have this option when their housing allowance goes straight to the landlord. Tenants in base housing also cannot report dangerous conditions to local authorities because their inspectors will not be permitted on base.
What Can You Do If You Are Stuck in This Trap?
While you may be advised to the contrary by your landlord and by the legal assistance office on your base, you do have the right to hire your own private attorney to represent you in a landlord dispute. Regardless of the contract between your landlord and your employer, you are entitled to exercise your rights under local, state, and federal laws and, as a Marine and consumer attorney in private practice, I am uniquely qualified to represent you when you are living with mold, rodents, lead paint, or other uninhabitable conditions.
Call Me for a Free Consultation
No matter which branch of the military you are in or where you are stationed, I am available to hear your story and discuss your options. Call or fill out the form on this page for a free case review. You have rights and I am here to protect them!
Can I leave base housing due to uninhabitable conditions?
If you are living with rodent feces, black mold, lead paint, no heat, or dangerous structural damage in a rental house on a military base, you have every right to move your family out to a safer location and you should not be penalized for doing so. However, it’s unlikely that the private company who is managing the housing on base will let you go that easily. In order to exercise your rights, you will probably need a lawyer to fight for you.
Your Right to Habitable Housing
All branches of the military at bases across the country have contracted out management of housing to private partners such as Lincoln Military Housing. The Department of Defense did this 20 years ago because the military could not afford to repair older housing or build new housing. However, on many bases, these companies have done a terrible job of maintaining, repairing, cleaning, and removing pests from the housing they now manage. As a result, servicemembers are finding themselves living in substandard housing that is making them and their children ill.
It’s important to understand that—even though you live on federal property and your landlord is a government contractor—you still have the same tenant rights that everyone else in your state has. One of those rights is the right to housing that is habitable.
The Cost of Moving Out of Your Military Housing
What has unfortunately been happening at bases like Camp Pendleton in California is that families have had to move out of their base housing because their landlord has refused to remove hazards like mold and rodents, making the house unsafe to live in. Fearing for their safety, these families have spent thousands of dollars to move and have also lost security deposits or even been charged cleaning fees by their landlords. This is not only unacceptable—it is illegal. If you have reported the problem to your landlord and they have failed to fix it, rendering it uninhabitable, the landlord has broken their end of the lease. They have also violated federal law by constructively evicting you without a court order.
What Can You Do About it?
The sooner you call me, the more I will be able to help. If you have taken pictures of the conditions in your home and you have a record of the complaints you have filed with your landlord, we will be in a strong position to sue them to not only get your deposit returned, but for additional damages as well. Even if you don’t have solid documentation, do not hesitate to call me for help. No matter where you live, I will go to work protecting you right to livable housing. Contact me online and I will be in touch as soon as possible.
Can I sue my military base landlord if my housing conditions are unlivable?
Far too many of our men and women in uniform are finding themselves living in base housing that is in sub-standard condition. Not only are these servicemembers and their families dealing with houses that are in disrepair, but they are living with rodents, black mold, and peeling lead paint. If you are in this situation, you may have been told that as a member of the military, you can’t sue the military. However, on most military bases, including Camp Pendleton, housing is owned and managed by outside contractors, not the military. These landlords are subject to the same laws as any other property owner and, therefore, can be sued when they violate your rights.
State Tenants’ Rights Laws
Every state has tenants’ rights laws, and they all protect renters in pretty much the same way. The part of the law that applies in this situation is the right to a habitable residence. This means that the landlord is required to do whatever it takes to maintain your property in a safe and livable condition. If your house on Camp Pendleton has dangerous black mold in the vents, for example, your landlord—in this case, Lincoln Military Housing—must take measures to remove the mold. Simply cleaning and painting over it is not the same as mold remediation. If you have informed your landlord of the problem and given them adequate time to take care of it, you have the right to sue them if they fail to make your house habitable.
Constructive Eviction Under SCRA
As a servicemember, you are also protected under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). One of the provisions of the law states that you cannot be evicted from your home without a court order. If you are forced to move your family out of military housing because rats, mold, or lead paint is making them ill, this is a form of eviction known as constructive eviction. If you sue your landlord under the SCRA and win, you can be released from your lease without penalty and you may also be owed damages.
Will Base Legal Help?
Despite the other valuable services base legal provides to you, this is one area where they will not be able to help. Because your landlord is a military contractor and the military can’t sue their own contractors, you will need to get outside legal help to sue your landlord under SCRA or state tenants’ rights laws.
As a Marine myself, I understand the sacrifices you are making to serve your country and I am committed to fighting back against housing contractors who refuse to ensure that members of our armed forces and their families have access to safe housing. If you are being blamed for the condition of your house or are looking to get out of a lease without penalty, contact me as soon as possible. I represent servicemembers in housing disputes across the country.
How Can I Avoid Being A Victim Of A For-Profit College Scam?
The promised education benefits were one of the reasons you joined the service to begin with. Serving your country is a great way to pay for the education you have always dreamed of. Now that you are ready to use these benefits to attend college, don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of by a for-profit college that is just out to get your money.
What Is a For-Profit College?
Simply put, a for-profit college is an institute of higher learning that is run by a private, profit-seeking company. They typically offer flexible class schedules, including evening and online classes that are very tempting for students who have a full-time job or are raising a family. While some of these schools are reputable, others have been found to make promises to students that they can’t keep. Students are left with a hefty bill and no job prospects.
How To Protect Yourself From For-Profit School Scams
Unfortunately, the money you can get as a servicemember to pay for college makes you a target for these disreputable schools. Follow this advice to protect yourself:
Be Wary Of The High-Pressure College Sales Pitch
Schools that are just out for your money will often pursue you aggressively. A high-pressure sales pitch should be a red flag that something is not right. Do not allow yourself to be rushed into making a decision. Take your time to consider multiple options.
Research Graduation Results For The College You're Considering
You are going to school to prepare for a career, right? So it’s a good idea to look at each school’s graduation rates and job-placement statistics rather than just taking a TV ad or salesperson’s word for it.
Compare The Costs Between The School You're Considering And Other Universities
While their schedules and locations may be convenient, for-profit schools often cost more than public colleges and universities. Take the time to compare costs and look for public colleges that offer flexible scheduling and satellite campuses.
The actions of certain for-profit colleges are truly despicable, particularly when they set their sights on those who have served our country. However, it’s up to you to protect your education benefits so that you can make the most of your future.
The Cardoza Law Corporation Looks Out for Servicemembers
As a Marine myself, I am happy to provide helpful information like this to our men and women in uniform. If you believe your civil rights have been violated as an active-duty servicemember, contact me online or call me directly at 855.982.2400 to see if I can help set things right.
How can I protect my stored property when I am on active duty?
To the average person, temporarily renting a unit to store personal possessions is no big deal. However, when you are an active duty servicemember who has been deployed or moved and must store almost everything you own while you are away, there is a lot to worry about. What if you forget to make a payment? What if you are away longer than you expected? Will you lose your possessions? The good news is, you have protections that the average citizen does not have.
Your Active Duty Servicemember Rights Regarding Stored Property
Simply stated, while you are on active duty, a storage company cannot simply sell your possessions if you fail to make a payment or break the contract in another way. Instead, they must first get a court order. How does this help? Well, first, it buys you some time. Instead of being notified that your stuff has been sold, you will get a notice that a case has been filed against you. You then have time to take action. What should you do? Start with the following:
- Call me. As a Marine and military consumer attorney, I am committed to protecting the rights of our men and women in uniform. I will communicate with the judge and get the proceedings against you stopped.
- Ask for more time. If you are behind on your rent or are unable to pay what you owe, we will work with the judge to adjust the amount you owe or the deadline for making the payment.
If the judge decides that your deployment or active duty status is not the reason you have broken the contract, he could grant the storage company permission to sell your belongings. Don’t let it come to that. Contact me before it’s too late!
Understand Your Rights As An Active Duty Servicemember
These protections are granted under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which grants many other protections as well. But if you don’t know your rights, you won’t know when you are being taken advantage of. If you are on active duty and are struggling with any consumer matter—breaking a new car lease, a landlord dispute, a civil lawsuit—please feel free to contact me online or call me directly at 855.982.2400 for help. You deserve better treatment while you are serving our country and I’m here to make sure you get it.
Can I lose my house or my car while I am serving in the military?
You have a lot to worry about when you are away from home serving your country. You may have left a spouse and kids behind, and you probably left bills that need to be paid. If those bills don’t get paid while you are gone, you should not have to worry about whether the lender will foreclose on your house or repossess your car or other property. The Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA), offers some protections to prevent this from happening; however, it is not a get out of jail free card.
Why Foreclosures and Repossessions Happen
When you borrow money to buy something, the lender often reserves the right to take the property back if you fail to make payments on the loan. With a home loan, this is known as foreclosure. Repossession occurs most often with cars. In California, both of these actions can be taken without filing suit to get a court order. However, as an active-duty servicemember, you will have an extra level of protection to prevent this from happening.
How Does the SCRA Protect Me?
While you are still subject to foreclosure or repossession if you default on a loan, as an active-duty member of the military, the creditor cannot just take your home or your car with no notice. Instead, he must file a lawsuit to get an order from a judge in order to take the property. This process could give you enough time to work things out with the creditor so you can keep your house or your car. This protection only applies if you purchased the property and made at least one payment on it before entering active duty service.
How Can A Military Consumer Protection Attorney Help?
If your SCRA rights were violated and your property was taken without a court order, call me to take legal action against the creditor or repossession service. You may not only get your property back, but you might be awarded financial damages for any losses you suffered. Don’t be pushed around by creditors while you are serving our country. I am a Marine myself and I know what you’re going through. Contact me online or call me directly at 855.982.2400 if you think your rights may have been violated.
What can I do about the high-interest loans I took out before I joined the military?
As a Marine myself, I understand that joining the military requires sacrifice, but I also know that there are amazing benefits to serving your country. Not only are you doing your part to protect democracy, but you get a steady paycheck, educational opportunities, advanced technical training, and a whole lot more. One perk your recruiter may not have told you about is the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which offers a bunch of financial protections when you are serving in the military.
One of the benefits SCRA provides is reducing the interest rate on any pre-service loans you or your spouse have to just 6 percent. Think about that. The credit card debt you’re carrying with a 23 percent interest rate? Slashed to 6 percent! Pretty awesome. But this won’t happen automatically. You’ll have to request it—and you may even need to demand it.
How to Get Your Interest Rates Reduced
First, take a look at all your loans and lines of credit. This includes car loans, student loans, mortgages, and credit cards. If any of them have an interest rate greater than 6 percent, you’ll have to do the following:
- Notify your lender in writing of your eligibility for a reduced interest rate.
- Include your copy of your orders to active duty service or a letter from your CO verifying the date you began active duty service.
Your lender is obligated to reduce your interest rate to 6 percent for the entire time you are on active duty, plus an additional year after the end of active duty. You also have these protections:
- Your lender can’t add the amount over 6 percent back into your loan after you leave active duty.
- Your lender can’t revoke your loan or credit account, change the terms of your credit, or refuse to grant you credit just because you exercised your SCRA rights.
- Your lender can’t furnish negative information to a credit reporting company just for invoking your SCRA rights.
And if your lender does any of these things? Or refuses to lower your interest rate? That’s when you call me. Not only are there criminal penalties for SCRA violators, you can also sue the violator to get them to fix what they did wrong and to pay my fees if we win. I give free case evaluations and take these cases on contingency, so it doesn't cost you any money up front.
You deserve to be treated with the respect you have earned as a member of the United States military. Allow me to help you get that respect. Contact me online or call me directly at 415.802.0137 and I will do everything I can to help.