FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — A metro Atlanta family fought back against their landlord and won after taking unfair hits to their credit scores.
It all started two years ago for siblings Carol and Caleb Blankemeyer when their Sandy Springs apartment flooded with water from the apartment above them.
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“We didn’t have a working kitchen, my brother and I were sharing my one bed and we were paying for a two-bedroom apartment,” Carol Blankemeyer said.
When the complex would not move them or put them up in a hotel after extensive water damage, they documented the damage, sent a certified letter to the landlord and moved out.
By Georgia law, landlords must provide a habitable home, says consumer attorney Cyclone Covey.
“They did everything they were supposed to do. The legal term is constructive eviction and so that’s exactly what happened,” Covey said.
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But the landlord, Trinity Property Consultants, charged them fees for breaking the lease, then turned it over to debt collectors and eventually the credit bureaus.
“Before all of this, my credit was phenomenal and it just went down so far,” Carol Blankemeyer said.
When Caleb was denied a loan because of the mark to his credit, the siblings filed a lawsuit against the landlord.
“They were essentially blamed for something that was not their fault,” Covey said.
Trinity Property eventually did agree to a settlement, but never followed through with fixing the credit scores as required by the terms of that settlement.
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And so, in August, Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Angela Duncan hit the landlord with a contempt of court order, fining them $2,000 a day for every day the mark remained on the Blankemeyer’s credit, more than $52,000 in total.
“The amount of time you have something on your credit it can affect you for a long time. This is not something you just fix whenever you get around to it. You need to fix it now and the judge told them they didn’t have the proper sense of urgency,” Covey said.
Trinity’s attorney declined to comment but after the contempt order the company did get the Blankemeyer’s credit scores fixed and repaid their attorney fees and moving costs.
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