Is a contract binding if Idid not witnessed the other party sign or if I don’t have a copy?

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Is a contract binding if Idid not witnessed the other party sign or if I don’t have a copy?

I entered a contract with an apartment complex for a move-in date of July 4th. I have discovered that I won’t have anyone to help me move the entire month of July, so I wanted to change my move-in date to the first week in August. The apartment complex was OK with this change be said there would be a $77 rent increase at that move-in date. I do not want to move-in now because the increase is too much for my budget and I do not want to pay for the month of July if I won’t be living there. The agent for the apartment is telling me that because I have already signed the contract, I must move in. However, when I signed the contract, the manager was not there and thus did not sign it in my presence. The agent told me I could pick up a copy of the contract once the manager had returned to work and signed the contract. Thus, I have no copy of the contract and I am unsure if the manager has signed it yet. Is the contract still binding because I didn’t witness or have proof that the manager signed and I have no copy? What are my other options to get out of the contract?

Asked on June 18, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The law does *not* require that the parties to a contract sign in each other's presence; indeed, it is *very* common, in today's email/fax/etc. age, for the parties to sign at different times and places. So this will not help you. Similarly, the fact that you do not have a copy of the contract does not, by itself, affect the validity of the contract--the fact that a party has or does not have a copy of a contract does not change whether its enforceable. Finally, a contract, once signed by a party, is generally enforceable against it. So while you could go to an attorney for him or her to evaluate the situation based on all its circumstances, in the situation you describe, the landlord could typically enforce the lease agasint the tenant.


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