Landlord who collects overdue rent is not a debt collector

A landlord raised the rent at his apartment complex. A tenant claimed the increase was excessive and sought to return the rent to the previous rate. The landlord and tenant entered into a forbearance agreement requiring the tenant to only pay the original rental amount until a judicial decision was reached. During the forbearance period, the property went into receivership and a new landlord purchased the apartment complex. A judgment was awarded affirming the rent increase, imposing liability on the tenant for the unpaid amount of rent. The new landlord issued a collection notice on the tenant demanding the difference in the original and increased rent amount which went unpaid during the judicial proceedings. The tenant sought to invalidate the collection, claiming the new landlord violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act since the landlord violated the Act’s disclosure requirements in collecting the rent. The landlord claimed the Act did not apply to him since, as the rent was not in default at the time he acquired the property and the right to the unpaid rent, the landlord was not a debt collector. A California appeals court held the unpaid increased rental amount could be collected by the new landlord since he was not a debt collector, as the rent was not in default when he obtained the right to the unpaid rent from the previous landlord. [De Dios v. International Realty & Investments (2011) 641 F3d 1071]

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