What happens if the name on a lease is not a legal name?

UPDATED: Feb 7, 2011

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What happens if the name on a lease is not a legal name?

I rent commercial space. I was locked out (locks changed) but was able to gain entrance through an unlocked window. I noticed a $2000 amp missing. I have 3 months left on the lease; I’m current on the payments but the landlord wants me out. I noticed the lease was made out to my band’s name (it’s not a legal name) and no address. If a lawsuit is unsuccessful could the lease be thrown out? Would they go after the individual band members? We don’t have a lot of money for a fancy lawyer.

Asked on February 7, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If the lease is not in the name of a legal entity, the landlord would indeed go after either the band members generally or a minimum, after whoever signed the lease. There are two theories under which the landlord could proceed:

1) If there's no legal entity (e.g. no corporation or LLC), then the signatories to the lease signed in their own individual capacity and therefore are individually bound.

2) By signing in the name of a fictitious entity (one with no legal standing), the signatories or band members generally knowingly attempted to commit fraud on the landlord.

Either theorywould support a lawsuit; there's no to avoid *someone* having liability on a contract (and that's what a lease is: a contract) by using a name that does not belong to a legal entity.

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