Is a new home contract null and void if the sales company did not provide the buyer with a copy of the community by-laws within 72 hours?

I put down a $500 earnest money deposit with a sales company here. They refuse to return the money after I have backed out of the contract. However, I never received an executed copy of the contract and I never received copies of anything else, including the community by-laws or HOA laws or anything whatsoever. Is the contract void if I don’t have copies of anything, including a copy of the contract itself? If so, can I find that in writing anywhere?

Asked on September 21, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There is no black-and-white, hard-and-fast answer to this. A contract is void, or at least voidable (i.e. the affected party can rescind it) if it was the result of fraud. And if one party does not comply with material (i.e. important) terms of the contract, the other party may have grounds to terminate it. However, it is not all clear that not receiving a copy of the contract or HOA rules or bylaws withinn 72 hours would constitute a material breach; there is no 72-hour deadline, UNLESS it was  in the contract itself. If not receiving these materials within 72 hours was not a material breach, then you trying to back out would be breach that would allow the other party to keep the deposit. Given the cost of litagation--which would be the only way to get your deposit back--you may have to ask yourself if it would be worth fighting for if they won't return it voluntarily.


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