Can we break a shady leasing contract?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can we break a shady leasing contract?

We went to transfer a lease over to us effective 3/1. The leasing agent dated the paper they have on file (after we signed our copy) making it effective 2/9 (the day we were in the office) now we’re responsible for the apartment even though we have no keys, no parking spot, and have never been inside it (other than that 15 minutes that my hubby looked at it.) Management refuses to speak with us. Current resident doesn’t want to go correct because it puts him back on the hook and responsible for unit. He lives there. Can we break the lease based on the fact that we haven’t taken possession of it? We no longer wish to live there.

Asked on February 17, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The issue is not possession--the law doesn't care whether or when you live in a property or not. The issue is fraud: a contract--and that's what a lease is: a contract--which is procured or based on fraud is not enforceable. If the agent misrepresented or lied about the start date, that would be fraud, and would make the contract not enforceable.

As an alternate way of viewing things, you can't be held to anything you did not agree to. If you can prove that you did not agree to a 2/9 start date, then you are only responsible for the start date as of when you agreed--though this approach would then still have you liable to rent, only starting on 3/1.

Note that regardless of your legal rights, you also have to consider the practicalities: before taking an action that could result in substantial liabilty (e.g. breaching the lease and being liable for it), review the facts of your situation with an attorney. For example, how good is the evidence for and against you? If the only evidence of when the lease started is a lease dated 2/9, it may be difficult to prove your version.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption