If a landlord alleges that a former tenant owes money for damages caused to the house during the tenancy, are the landlord's actions while attempting to collect the alleged debt covered by the Dodd-Frank act?

I ask because, in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's bulletin on the act, says the act covers original creditors, but it refers to the debtor as the "consumer". I am not sure whether this act then only covers consumer debt (i.e. store purchases etc.).


1 Answer 1


I am a landlord and not an attorney. For that reason, will answer this question from that perspective.

The Dodd Frank Act covers "collections" as primarily in a collections agency. If can cover a corporation collecting debts of course. It has nothing to do with a landlords ability to obtain a judgement or collect a debt which is covered by your states Tenant Landlord Act (or something similar).

The landlord has the right to file a complaint against anyone who has not paid rent, caused damage to the property, or any other loss to the landlord as a result of your action or inaction. Filing and getting a judgement is not collections as covered by the Dodd Frank Act. Once a judgement or judgements have been entered, there are several options including through the sheriffs department seizure and forfeiture depending upon your state law.

Only if the landlord sends your debt to a collections agency, does the Dodd Frank Act apply and, in that, only applies to how the collections agency that collects the debt and not to the landlord. It does not apply to the debt, the ability or right to collect the debt. It applies to the behavior of the collections agency seeking to collect the debt only.

For what it is worth, with so many legal options available to the landlord and not similarly afforded to consumer debt, it is unlikely that the landlord will use a collections agency. Options can include a collections attorney, the sheriffs department, direct collection by the landlord, the courts, etc. Landlords often take a loss of some sort using a collection agency and therefore avoid the option unless as a last resort. Often, if direct collection efforts fail, the landlord will either receive relief through the courts or through the sheriffs department according to state law, both of which are unavoidable and not ordinarily covered by the Dodd Frank Act. In this case, it is akin to owing the state the debt just like any other debt owed to the state. The state will have rights afforded by law such as the right to withhold privileges offered by the state such as drivers licenses, titles, tags, building permits, other licenses, etc. This may not apply equally in all states. You will have to read your states law to know what the limits of the ability of a landlord to obtain and collect a debt are.

  • Are you saying that there are states in which a non-governmental landlord can use the full authority and power of the state to collect a debt or judgement? Can you elaborate on that? Unless I'm misunderstanding something that would astonish me.
    – feetwet
    Jul 30, 2016 at 1:52
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    @feetwet Yes and no. If I were to turn over a judgement to the sheriff or constables office, as a landlord or otherwise, pay the bond to cover any collections disputes, yes the state will collect on my behalf with the full power of the state. This includes forfeiture, garnishments, seizure of private property and bank accounts, etc. A bond is about $500 so for landlords they are more interested in getting their property back without an issue, however, if you have a particularly bad tenant as I had a couple of months ago, it is a very real option I have chosen to take.
    – closetnoc
    Jul 30, 2016 at 2:01
  • @feetwet BTW- related to this question. law.stackexchange.com/questions/8720/… We are swearing complaints to build a fact pattern to prosecute the person mentioned in this question. The sheriff has already collected some monies already and will be collecting on more judgments from myself and perhaps others. The police, townships, county, state, and federal, are all on this persons tail. So it will be an interesting story in the end. Cheers!!
    – closetnoc
    Jul 30, 2016 at 2:08
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    I'm not sure this addresses the point of the question. I think everyone agrees that a landlord has the right to sue a tenant and to enforce their judgment in the usual ways. The question is about collection practices. For instance, suppose a landlord calls a tenant's employer and says "Hey, your deadbeat employee Joe Smith owes me $1,000 and won't pay." That would be illegal for a debt collector to do under Dodd-Frank. Is it illegal for the landlord? Jul 30, 2016 at 2:12
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    Okay, but then I don't think the hypothetical I raised in my earlier comment has been addressed. You're saying it's unlikely to arise in reality but I still want to know what would happen if it did. Tenant owes money to landlord, landlord calls tenant's employer in an attempt to collect. Is landlord subject to penalties under Dodd-Frank or similar federal laws? Jul 30, 2016 at 5:55

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