What Legal Actions Can Creditors Take If You Don’t Pay Your Debts?

Most of us don’t plan to get into debt and usually it doesn’t happen overnight. And yes, I know there are always exceptions to the rule. But, for most people debt just sort of sneaks up on them. One day they were doing okay and making ends meet, the next day they realized that they were in way over their heads.

If you are over your head in debt, you have probably had the thought: “What happens if I don’t pay my debts?” Well, that all depends on what kind of debt you have. So, let’s take a look.

You’re Not in It Alone

If the debt isn’t only in your name–if it’s a joint account or you have a co-signer–then you need to talk to the other person on the account. If you stop paying, your creditors will go after the other person. This is one of the surest ways to destroy a relationship with family members or friends. For this reason, I do not recommend co-signing a loan for someone. If they default, you can kiss your relationship-and your assets-goodbye at the same time. If this isn’t the only debt you owe, I would strongly suggest you find some way to keep this one current rather than stiffing someone who tried to help you out. You’ll have a little bit of time to make arrangements before they go after your co-signer, but trust me, they will take legal action against the other name on the account in order to satisfy the debt.

Anchors Away

If the debt is tied to an asset, it is considered a secured loan. You are basically using the value of the item purchased as collateral, or as a guarantee, for the loan. If it is a mortgage or auto loan, for example, the creditor will repossess the item you purchased if you default on the terms of the loan.

The laws on foreclosure are regulated by the state you live in, so they vary from state-to-state. Probably a good rule of thumb is that you are in danger of foreclosure on your home if you are three months behind. At that point, the mortgage lender can start the process of foreclosure in basically any state. Once they have filed the paperwork, you usually have another 30 days before your home will be sold at auction. You’ll have to either come up with the money, or do a short-sale to avoid foreclosure. In most cases, the auto repossession process also starts when you are 90 days behind in your payments.

Your best bet in both cases, or with any other secured loan, is to contact your lender. Let them know you are having financial difficulties and see if they will work with you. Just remember, negotiation usually works best before you fall behind in payments. Sometimes the lender will shift your current month’s payment to the end of the loan letting you “skip” a payment for now. You may also be able to refinance the loan either through the same lender or a different lender. Again, this ill usually only work out in your favor if you refinance before you fall behind in payments.

If none of these are options, you should consider selling the item before it gets sold at auction. In almost every case, you will be able to get a higher purchase price than your lender will get. In any event, if you do not sell the home or car for enough to pay off your debt, you will still be liable for the difference.

Feeling a Little Insecure?

An unsecured loan has no collateral to back it up. A credit card is an unsecured loan. There is nothing to repossess because the items purchased are consumables, such as food, clothing, gasoline, etc. This is the riskiest type of loan for a lender, which is why an unsecured loan is usually a little more difficult to get and the interest rates are higher. In fact, my interest rates may be higher or lower than yours, depending upon our individual credit scores. The higher risk you present of defaulting on your agreement, the higher the interest rate you will have to pay.

But, just because there isn’t a physical item that can be repossessed, that doesn’t mean you have nothing to worry about from your creditors. The first step a credit card company will take when you fall behind on your payments is to charge you late fees and raise your interest rate. Then they will call you and send you threatening letters. As a general rule, you have to be several months behind, maybe even years, before they will take any legal action against you. It’s likely that they will charge off your account and send it to collections rather than pursue legal action themselves.

If you still do not pay after your account has gone to collections, you run the risk of being sued. If you lose the case, which you will unless you aren’t actually responsible for the charges, there will be a judgment against you. You will then be responsible not only for the original charges, but also for legal fees and court fees. If you appear in court, you may be able to make payment arrangements at that time. If you do not appear in court, you may end up having your bank account or your wages garnished. You definitely don’t want this to happen.

Your best bet when you have fallen behind on your unsecured debt is to contact the collector and try to reach a debt settlement agreement. Often they will agree to accept a lump sum payment for 50% or less of the total amount owed just to get you off of their books.

My name is Cheree Miller. I’m not a financial counselor or legal advisor. In fact, I’ve made some poor choices in my life. I’ve been broke, with creditors calling, writing, and sending court summons. I’ve had my bank account garnished and wondered how I was going to feed my family. But, I can tell you that you can learn to make good choices where your money is concerned. You can get out of debt if you remain focused on the end goal instead of wallowing around in a pity pool feeling sorry for yourself. Better yet, you can retire rich if you start saving for your retirement now!

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Reasons To Take Legal Action Against Your Landlord

The landlord or the property management company should make certain that the home for rent is in a habitable condition. They are also expected to cease from interfering with the tenant’s right to privacy and quiet enjoyment of the home. If the property no longer fit for human habitation or the landlord frequently meddles with a tenant’s quiet enjoyment, the occupant has a reasonable basis for taking legal action against the property owner.

Not Keeping The Property In Habitable Condition

The landlord is obliged to keep the rental property in livable state by adhering to all building, housing, health and safety codes. Some landlords prefer hiring a property management company to maintain the home’s habitable condition. The landlord or the property manager must ensure that all the electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilating systems are functioning appropriately. The failure to uphold the habitability of a home is an apparent violation of the landlord’s duty and the renter is entitled to make action against the landlord.

Forbidden Landlord Actions

A property owner cannot just alter the locks, get rid of the doors and windows or shut off utility services and other amenities or intimidate the renters to do any of the forgoing actions with the intention of evicting a tenant. Moreover, a landlord cannot take hold of a tenant’s personal properties to recover rent. In case a landlord does any of these actions, the occupant has a valid cause of action against the landlord.

Invasion of Privacy And Quiet Enjoyment

A landlord has no right to meddle with a tenant’s quiet enjoyment of the rental home. Hence, a landlord must provide an occupant a 24-hour notice before accessing the residence unless there is an urgent situation. Moreover, the landlord should not take advantage of their right of entry to look over the premises, send packages or show the apartment to potential renters or buyers. In case the landlord violates the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the rental unit, the occupant has a cause of action against the property owner.

The Tenant Acquired Injuries Caused By The Landlord’s Negligence

Usually, a property owner is not legally accountable for any problems that transpire on the rental unit since the landlord is not in charge of making the premises safe. But a landlord can be held responsible if the injury or damage happened in a common area, the tenant acquired an injury due to hidden defect the landlord are already aware of yet failed to forewarn the occupant, the landlord performed the chore of doing a repair but failed to finish the repair with due care or the property are chartered for public use.

Alternative Resolutions

Although the occupant can keep on paying rent in full and demand for money damages from the rental property owner to compensate the damages, other resolutions also exist. If the property no longer fits for human habitation, the renter can move out and end the lease. But the tenant also has the option to do the repairs and deduct the cost of restoration of the property from future rent.

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How Small Businesses Can Prepare For Costly Legal Actions

If you own your own business, even a work at home business, you probably should carry some legal insurance beyond what your existing business, auto and homeowner or renter policies encompass. Your coverage on these policies may or may not cover legal services required for such situations as false arrest, libel, slander, or invasion of privacy.

The increasing complexities of the legal system trigger the escalation in the costs of lawsuits. This can be exceedingly expensive to a small business proprietor, especially if you have a home based business. You simply can’t afford to hope that you will never be mixed up in a costly legal proceeding.

Hiring an attorney to defend some claims against you or your business may destroy a small business. With money so tight these days, what small business owner can find the money to pay a minimum of $200 per hour for a lawyer who specializes in business law? Unless you are running a million dollar business, this type of assistance is far too expensive for most people.

A couple of options are available to you.

First, talk with with your insurance agent to find out what additional policies or riders you can obtain that may cover legal costs for standard legal actions arising from the usual course of business. You might be able to get an umbrella plan that will expand both the dollar limits of your current coverage as well as increase the number of situations covered. An umbrella plan can be an inexpensive answer to your legal exposure.

A second choice is a prepaid legal plan that protects you, your family, and your business. Typically, for a fixed monthly or annual price your will obtain a collection of legal services that are tailored to the requirements of a small business.

One widely used and helpful feature of a prepaid legal plan is your option to have phone conversations with your attorney. You can talk about potential issues with your attorney and obtain his or her legal advice before you do something that could produce a lawsuit. This is a positive aspect of most plans and can help you avoid lawsuits, saving you a lot of time, expense, and worry.

Many prepaid legal plans also include your attorney’s time for reviewing usual documents and contracts. Without a legal plan you might not consider having contracts reviewed. But, your attorney can suggest ways to improve the contract language and notify you of possible issues. This also can rescue you from lots of headaches.

Prepaid legal plans will also cover your attorney’s time for preparing for and conducting a trial, should a legal situation require a trial. Frequently your plan details the particular types of legal situations that are covered for trail related expenses.

Typical of any legal agreement, you need to read over any prepaid legal plan cautiously to note precisely what services are included as well as their limits. You don’t want to think you have broad coverage when your coverage is extremely limited.

Most plans also provide discounts for services not specifically made available by the plan.

You also should be concerned about the options you will be given for your attorney or law firm. After all, legal specialization and experience play a critical part in your legal status,. Scrutinize the options and ask each potential firm for references from prior clients. If you know other small business owners who have utilized a particular plan, talk about their experiences with them to see their evaluation of the law firm they are working with.

You ought to also check with your state’s Bar Association and the Better Business Bureau to find the background of the attorneys and determine if there are some complaints, including fee disputes, against the firms. Find out about such items as your potential attorney’s educational background, professional track record, and length of time practicing in his or her specialty.

Also, find out about how disputes with your legal plan provider are handled. Determine if they deal with disputes internally or submit them to an objective third party for resolution. This might have a major influence on your relationship with your plan provider.

By and large, as a small business owner, you should consider the risk of legal proceedings against you and make preparations to handle those situations. You will rest easier and perhaps avoid some pretty big expenses in the process.

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Using Legal Action To Recover Company Debts

When normal credit-control procedures are exhausted and you are convinced that you are in the right, you ultimately face a choice. You can give up and write off the unpaid amount as a bad debt. Alternatively, you can take legal action to enforce the payment that should be yours. Writing off a debt is sometimes the best thing to do, but it should be avoided if possible. Here we look at the alternative, which is to take legal action to enforce payment.

Which jurisdiction?

This post will be read in several countries, but reference to the legal system relates to the legal system of England and Wales. For this purpose, Scotland is a foreign country. It has many similarities to the English system, but there are some differences. Most of this chapter concerns advice on general principles and applies to almost all countries.

Considerations prior to deciding on legal action

There are some very important points that you should consider before commencing legal proceedings. Among them are the following:

Can the customer pay? There is an old saying that blood cannot be got out of a stone. If the customer really has not got the means to pay, as opposed to choosing not to do so, there is little point in taking legal action. You will win the case but still not get paid, and will have incurred legal costs as well.

Costs. Legal costs will be incurred if an action is taken. There are ways to minimise them, and you may be able to do some of the work yourself, but some costs cannot be avoided. You may succeed in recovering some of them from the customer. Some solicitors and credit agencies are willing to operate on the basis of ‘no win, no fee’ and to be paid a percentage of the amount actually recovered. But you will still be liable for court fees and expenses. You would be well advised to consider the likely amount of costs, the chances of winning, the chances of recovering some costs from the customer, and the amount of the debt. Then you should take a cool decision about whether to proceed or not.

The chances of success. The chances are probably very good if we measure success by winning the case and getting judgment. The overwhelming majority of actions are successful if measured by this yardstick. This is because in most cases there is no real dispute and the case is undefended. Everyone knows that the money is owing; it is just that the customer will not pay. However, if by success we mean winning judgment and getting payment, the chances of success are less.

An understanding of the legal system. It is important to understand that the legal system is there for you to use. It can provide a forum in which you can make things happen, but it will not make things happen for you. There are a lot of procedures and rules to be followed which you may find frustrating.

Even though you are in the right, and even after you have won your case and got judgment in your favour, the legal system will not act on your behalf. You must fill in the forms, pay the fees (which you will hope to recover from the defendant) and be proactive every step of the way.

The importance of acting quickly. If a customer is in difficulties, it often happens that several suppliers will take legal action at about the same time. It does not follow that all will get a pro-rata share of whatever money is available. The ones that act decisively may get paid in full and others may get nothing.

Money obtained by the methods of enforcement – seizure of assets by a bailiff being one example – goes to the claimants in the order in which they applied for the enforcement action. Company A that applied on Tuesday may get paid in full, while Company B that applied on Wednesday gets nothing.

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