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Dear Liz: I’m 28 and have had excellent credit since Day One. In May of this year, I leased a new car and found out my credit score was 780. In July, I decided to lease a second vehicle. Instead of paying the leasing company monthly, I used a credit card balance transfer offer to write them a check for the entire two-year lease amount ($18,000). When I applied for two more credit cards in the following months, I was denied by both. I have never been late on any payments and always pay off my credit card debts (except for this balance transfer, on which I make monthly payments). Why was I denied credit?

Answer: You may not have the great credit you think you do.

You’ve been applying for a lot of credit in a short period, something that can adversely affect your scores. You also put a pile of debt on one of your cards, which can also hurt your numbers. Credit scoring formulas are sensitive to the amount of credit you’re using on each card. The narrower the gap between your balances and your limit, the greater the potential damage.

Even if your scores are good, they might not have been enough for today’s credit card issuers, especially if you applied for high-end rewards cards. These issuers want FICO scores of 750 or above. Drop a point or two below, and you may be out of luck.

Dear Liz: Our apartment was infested with bugs, had a leaky bathroom faucet that was never fixed after numerous requests, and then our ceiling fell in because of a roof leak that was not repaired. We had to make other living arrangements before vacating the apartment, and now they are saying we’re responsible for $1,800 for terminating our lease early.

Answer: In every state except Arkansas, the law requires landlords to provide “fit and habitable” housing, said attorney Janet Portman, the managing editor of legal self-help publisher Nolo and author of “Every Tenant’s Legal Guide.” “Fit and habitable” means the housing is waterproof and free from vermin infestation. The housing also must have heat, lights, water, functional plumbing and a working kitchen.

If the housing isn’t fit and habitable, you legally can break the lease if you didn’t cause the problem yourself and you gave the landlord a reasonable amount of time to fix the problems.

Liz Pulliam Weston is the author of the book “Your Credit Score: Your Money and What’s at Stake.” Questions for possible inclusion in her column may be sent to 3940 Laurel Canyon Blvd., No. 238, Studio City, CA 91604, or via the “Contact Liz” form atwww.asklizweston.com.


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