Harrassment from a landlord
Hi, I just wanted to share my story briefly and ask everyone for advice. My husband and I moved to an apartment area after seeing a sample of an apartment but without seeing the apartment itself because for more than a month they were still not ready to show it. When we came to move in we asked to see the apartment and were told we need to sign the contract first - naive I know, we signed. Then we saw that the apartment was in a terrible condition.There were cockroaches (one of the biggest problem), holes in the walls and one really big hole behind the stove where roaches came from), the cupboards in the kitchen were rotten and the wood was falling in pieces from them (they also had dead roaches in them when we moved in), the carpet was all stained and greasy to the touch, there was a heavy odor in the apartment who knows from what. This is all briefly what the problems were. SO of course we panicked, how can we live in such conditions for a year. We asked that we cancel the contract - it was not yet signed from the landlord. They refused us, rushed the landlord to sign it and gave us a copy. We told them to have somebody spray for roaches. They said it will be later that month, we asked them again to send someone, they said again they will. So half of the month passed and we also sent a letter to the landlord telling her mostly about the odor in the unit, because it made both me and my husband sick. We had a constant headache and my husband suffers from asthma, so it was worse for him. We got no reply. At first we wanted to break the lease, not knowing our rights under the law that we can live in a healthy environment and it was the managements responsibility. They asked for over $5000 till the end of the lease. I went to speak with a representative in city hall and he told me we can give the 5-day notice to fix everything. We gave them the notice. They didn't spray for cockraoches (they did on the 6th day, anyways there so many roaches, that it was unsuccessful), They didn't do anything about the rest. They offered to replace the carpet at our expense. So we gave them notice we are leaving because of them not willing to change anything. We left and they sent us to collection. Both of us with two different account numbers as if they want to collect over 10000 not only 5000 dollars. We disputed both letters sending evidence. By law they can report a disputed debt to a credit buro, or if they do, they must add that it is disputed. Well, they reported it without adding anything, and also keep updating it- which is also unlawful for a disputed debt. They sent us another letter saying they rerented the apartment and we must pay 592 only. This they have reduced on my husband's collection and mine still is 5000 dollars. We just found out about these collections a year later when we were denied a house loan. Our credit without this would have been perfect. We have no lates on anything. So now we plan to sue the collection company for the violation it has made and the landlord for keeping harrassing us. How can a landlord in so many violations keep bugging us? If she had only known that we are very poor she wouldn't have gone thru the trouble. We keep evidence of everything including pictures of the apartment and the roaches - in our food roaches as well. How do you think we should proceed on that? We are really poor and having a good name was our only chance to buy a house. I am really angry at these people for affecting our life like that. We were current at our rent with them and also we paid for a whole month but lived there 10 days only. They kept our security deposit and are saying they are keeping it for cleaning purposes for the oven (which I never even opened, everything was too gross to use) and for the carpet which as I told you was in a very bad shape in the beginning. In our previous area, when we left they even asked us if anyone had ever lived there. Everything was so clean and neat when we left it. All in all, we have always been good renters and have tried to keep our name clear of anything bad. What are your suggestions?