If you sign the rental application but have not signed the lease or given a deposit, can you get out of renting the apartment?

UPDATED: Jul 26, 2010

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If you sign the rental application but have not signed the lease or given a deposit, can you get out of renting the apartment?

I live in Boston and I’m looking for an apartment. I found one that was OK so I filled out the rental application and was accepted by the landlord. I have not signed the lease or given a deposit yet though. I recently found another apartment which works better for me. I want to know if I am bound legally to take the first apartment?

Asked on July 26, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

There is no easy or general answer. It depends entirely on what the application and any associated documents say. It would be legal for the application to bind you to accepting (renting) an apartment, should one be offered under the terms you applied for. It would be also be legal for an application to merely ask that you be evaluated or considered for the apartment, without obligating you to lease it. You should take the application, any and all other documents and corresondence, etc. to an attorney with landlord-tenant experience who can evaluate them for you and determine what  your legal rights are in this situation. (As a general matter, whenever an issue turns on some document, whether contract, lease, application, insurance policy, etc., the answer will often be governed by the specific terms of that document.)

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.

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