If after signing an agreement, the other party modifies theterms in their copy, does that resultin a breach of contract?

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If after signing an agreement, the other party modifies theterms in their copy, does that resultin a breach of contract?

After the signing of rental contract, I was sent the opposite party’s copy of the same contract, but they had modified one of the terms. Does that lead to a breach of contract? or falls under fraud?

Asked on February 9, 2011 under Business Law, Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First, any changes made to a contract after a party signs it are void--one party may not simply unilaterally change terms after the other party has agreed to it. So you are not bound to any changes, except in a few special cases (e.g. if the contract reserved to the other party the right to change certain terms; or if the changes are to correct an obvious error, such as the decimal point in the rent being typed in the wrong place).

If the other party attempts to enforce such invalid terms, that may then be breach of contract, which depending on the situation, could give you either a claim for damages or grounds to terminate the contract without penalty. Similarly, there are circumstances under which trying to write in new terms after a party has agreed to the old terms might be fraud (and there are situations where it lacks the requisite fraudulent intent and so is not fraud, even though the changes would still be unenforceable). If the other party attempts to enforce these new changes, then you may therefore have a cause of action under one or more theories.


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