Under what conditions can a signed lease be invalidated?

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Under what conditions can a signed lease be invalidated?

Went 18 days without AC. The property manager agreed to reduce rent. Owner now says property manager is not really the property manager and is making contracts and signing leases illegally. But everything done was under the landlord’s instructions; the landlord even introduced me to them as the property manager. I have e-mails from my landlord stating he is such. As soon as the landlord heard of the rent reduction is when I was told that the PM was not the PM. Our lease is now null and void and unless we pay the full rent for next month we have to get get out. Is this true?

Asked on October 24, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If the property manager was in a position when he, she, or it would seem to any reasonable person to have the authority to sign or modify leases, then it is most likely that a court would conclude that the property manager at least had the "apparent authority" to make the rent reduction and would hold it binding. If the landlord was letting property manager manage the property and act on its behalf, the landlord cannot later disclaim that authority when it suits the landlord. The exceptions would be if there was anything in the lease itself saying that changes could only be made by the landlord itself (such a term or condition is enforceable) or there  was some notice or evidence, prior to you getting the rent reduction, that the landlord did not have the authority to do this.

Assuming the above is not true (no lease term preventing the reduction; no evidence that the manager lacked authority), then from what you write, you would seem to have a good case to enforce the reduction. What you should do, however, is make sure you have enough money put aside to pay the extra rent if the landlord takes you to court (he can't evict you without a court action) and wins--after all, even though you seem to have a good case, no case is ever certain. If the landlord took you to court and won, you'd have to pay the extra money; so take whatever you're saving, stick it in a saving account or the equivalent (don't spend it), and have it ready in case legal action is taken and you lose.


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