Can a lease be broken after a lease is signed if no money has changed hands and before the tenants have moved in?

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Can a lease be broken after a lease is signed if no money has changed hands and before the tenants have moved in?

Asked on May 10, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A lease is a contract: once it is agreed to, it is binding on both parties, even if no one has yet moved in or no money has as yet changed hands. (Generally speaking, moving in or not is irrelevant to the enforceability of a lease--people can and do lease property that for one reason or another they do not move into.)

The tenant would typically only have grounds to either rescind or terminate--i.e. break--the lease if:

1) The landlord does not or cannot delivery possession--i.e. the ability to move in--of the property.

2) The property is essentially uninhabitable or not usable for its intended purpose.

3) The landlord committed fraud--that is, the landlord knowingly lied about something important in regards to the property or the terms of the lease, to get the tenant to sign the lease.

4) The landlord violates some other important provision of the lease--for example, the lease including rental of a garage, but the landlord is keeping his cars in it, so the tenant cannot use it.


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