What to do if I have signed a lease with a man that has turned out to be a well known scam artist?

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What to do if I have signed a lease with a man that has turned out to be a well known scam artist?

I gave him a check for an applicatio fee and partial deposit. A few days later I was coming up with more money to pay more of a deposit but he told me that he couldn’t cash the check I gave him because he didn’t have an account. A couple of days later I met with him and give him the first month’s rent ($695) and an application fee ($65); we agreed to let me pay out the rest of the deposit. I paid cash and got a receipt with all that written on there. After the papers were signed, he said that the house did not come with a fridge like the ad said. Later that same day, I found out that he tried to cash the check I had given him. I call him but he hung up on me and won’t answer.

Asked on December 26, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If he has violated the terms of the lease, or committed fraud against you--that is, he knowingly or intentionally made material, or important, misrepresentations or lies to get you to sign the lease or give him money--then you may have grounds to terminate the lease withot penalty. Breach of lease or fraud may also give you grounds to sue him for monetary compensation, as would his act of theft, if he did take money to which he was not entitled, whether by trickery or deception or otherwise. And if he committed or even tried to commit theft, then you could report him to the police. You therefore may have several legal options; you should speak with a landlord-tenant attorney to discuss them in more depth.


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