What counts as a count as a legally binding agreement?

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What counts as a count as a legally binding agreement?

IfI made an inquiry by email about the possibility of extending the lease; I didn’t ask to extend it, just about the possibility of doing so. The landlord mistook that inquiry and responded that they would grant the extension and I never replied to that response. Was this exchange a legally binding extension?

Asked on June 14, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A legally binding agreement or contract is formed when:

1) There is a clear, unequivocal offer to form an agreement;

2) The other party clearly signals its acceptance of said offer; and

3) There is an exchange of "consideration," or things or promises of value (such as a promise to rent to you for longer, in exchange for your promise to pay rent under an extension of the lease).

Therefore, IF you did not indicate that you would re-rent or extend the lease, the landlord would not seem to be able to hold you to it; an inquiry, if it's clear that it was an inquiry and not an offer to extend, would not create a binding contract. That said, clearly, the specific language in your inquiry is critical--if it appeared that you were offering to extend the lease, the landlord could accept that offer and create a contract. You should bring copies of the correspondence to an attorney, who can review it with you to determine whether you did or did not enter into a contract.


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