If my landlord is claiming she lost our annual lease, what are our rights?

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If my landlord is claiming she lost our annual lease, what are our rights?

She is claiming that we have a month-to-month agreement and is trying to tell us we have 15 days to move out?

Asked on September 17, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The landlord apparently misunderstands the law--losing the physical copy of a lease does not void or invalidate it, or turn a written lease into an oral lease, or turn a lease for a definite term into a month to month lease. The enforceability of a contract--and that's what a lease is: a contract--in no way depends on the existence of the physical paper on which it was written. The lease will still be enforced for its full duration, as per its terms; obviously, proving what those terms are will be more difficult if there is no copy of the lease, but  it's not impossible: it can be proven by testimony, by note as to what was in it, by correspondence, emails or text messages about it, etc. So the fact the lease was lost does not invalidate it, though the landlord tries to evict you nonetheless, you have to be prepared for court fight, to prove that you are subject to a lease for a definite term. In the future, make sure you also get and keep a copy of any/all leases, etc. Good luck.


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