If the old owner of my business wants to change the terms of our contract because she’s broke and needs money, can she do that?

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If the old owner of my business wants to change the terms of our contract because she’s broke and needs money, can she do that?

We both signed (without a lawyer or notary) a contract stating the terms – $35,000 fixed loan at 6% to be paid over 6 years with no down payment. Now she’s trying to tell me I either have to give her a downpayment, pay her more then the agreed $580.05, or agree to sell her flowers from her garden on consignment. I don’t feel I have to do any of those because I’ve held up what we’ve agreed to. Always paid slightly more then what my monthly payment is and I’ve never been late. I just want to make sure that when I say no. That there are not going to be any legal repercussions.

Asked on September 27, 2011 under Business Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

A contract is a contract--both parties are bound by its terms. While either party is free to *ask* the other one to change it, neither party may require the other one to make any changes to an already-executed contract, or unilaterally make any changes to the contract. Or rather: if the contract itself provides  that one party may make certain changes or require certain additional things of the other party, then that party may do so, but only to the extent the contract specifically permits. Therefore, unless the contract gives the former owner the right to make some changes or impose additional terms, you are under no obligation to do anything other than what is set out in the contract. It'd be a good idea to review the contract again, to double check what it's terms were.


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