Do I pay the termination fee if it is not part of the contract?

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Do I pay the termination fee if it is not part of the contract?

My health club told me to take advantage of reduced fees, a period of 12 months should be agreed. But the agreement does not state any cancallation policy or termination fees. Due to personal issues, I couldn’t make it after couple of months. Now they send me a cancelltion policy that states I owe them 5 months fees for early termination. Can they do that? Is it valid if it is not part of the agreement? What are my options?

Asked on October 22, 2012 under General Practice, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Only terms or conditions that were part of the contract when you agreed to it are enforceable against you; the other party to the contract (the health club) cannot add new terms to the contract after the fact. So if a cancellation fee was not part of the contract which you signed, it should not be enforceable against you.

That said: if the contract was for a given or set time--e.g. for one year--you are obligated for the entire year. That is not a cancellation policy or fee; that is basic contract law, in that a person who signs a contract for a period of time is obligated for that whole time. So if there are still five months to run on your contract, you may in fact be charged for them.


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