Student loans are different

May 7, 2011 at 12:07 a.m.

By Richard Alderman

You have written that the statute of limitations for suing on a debt is four years, and that there is no wage garnishment in Texas. I have a debt collector harassing me about an eight-year-old student loan. He says if I don't pay he will sue and garnish my wages. Doesn't it violate the law to make such threats?

You are correct that as a general rule, a lawsuit to collect a debt must be filed within four years and that Texas has no wage garnishment. It also is a violation of federal law to harass you, or threaten to take any action prohibited by law. Like many "general rules," however, this one has some exceptions; and the biggest one is student loans.

Federally backed student loans are subject to federal law, and have no statute of limitation. The law also allows wage garnishment, even in Texas. In other words, you can be sued on an 8-year-old student loan and your wages could be garnished. I suggest you talk with the debt collector to see if you can work out a payment plan you can afford.

My landlord sent me a notice stating that beginning next month my rent is being raised due to "increased costs and expenses." My lease is not up until October. Is this legal?

If you have a lease, your landlord cannot raise the rent unless a provision in the lease says he can. Just think what he would say if you walked in and said you were going to pay less, because of a change in your income.



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