What is the enforceability of a lease signed by a tenant but not by the landlord?

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What is the enforceability of a lease signed by a tenant but not by the landlord?

I have been living at my apartment nearly 5 years. I sign a new lease every year with the management company. I signed my most recent in 06/10 but never received a copy. About 4 weeks ago I got a letter saying that my rent would increase 02/11. I called and the management company said that they had no lease on file as the owner hadn’t signed and returned it; thus I was month-to-month. This is the first mention they have made of my not having a lease. Is the lease enforcible considering I signed, have been paying rent the 7 months since and was not told until a couple weeks ago that I had no lease?

Asked on February 2, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The lease is almost certainly enforceable, under two theories:

1) A party's agreement to a contract--and that's what a lease is--can be shown by more than just a signature. Behavior can evidence agreement, and the landlord's behavior in accepting rent for 7 months as per the terms of the lease and taking no action (e.g. not looking to evict you for you're not having a right to be there) is fairly conclusive evidence that they had accepted the lease.

2) If they promulgated the lease to you, giving you the lease could be seen as their offer of an agreement or contract. Your signing and returning it would seen as acceptance of their offer. When one party makes an offer to another, the second party's acceptance of that offer creates a contract.


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