Can I get out of my apartment lease?
July 19, 2009 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Is my Rental Agreement legally binding if the landlord did not sign the contract?

The rental agreement was signed by me and another person who may or may not be the landlord's husband. His name is not listed anywhere on the Rental agreement as being a landlord.

Would it be a breach of contract if I moved out early? Since the landlord listed in the Rental agreeement never signed the agreement, I'm thinking it would not be a breach of contract. Am I correct?

Thank you for your assistance!
posted by speedoavenger to Law & Government (15 answers total)
YOU signed, agreeing to the terms. IANAL, but I believe you have a contract.
posted by HuronBob at 7:46 AM on July 19, 2009

This previous AskMe has good information for you.
posted by not that girl at 8:22 AM on July 19, 2009

The person in the last thread who said essentially "No signature = no contract" has no place giving legal advice. Speak to a local attorney about this, but plan on it being binding.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:26 AM on July 19, 2009

I bet your landlord could produce a signed copy of your lease with about, oh, ten seconds' notice.
posted by kindall at 8:30 AM on July 19, 2009 [3 favorites]

YOU signed, agreeing to the terms. IANAL, but I believe you have a contract.

Not an expert on contract law, so consult an attorney, but I seem to remember from law school that a contract must be signed by the "party to be charged" --- i.e., the landlord, if seeking to enforce the contract, need only show that YOU signed it.
posted by jayder at 8:40 AM on July 19, 2009

(with YOU being the party to be charged)
posted by jayder at 8:41 AM on July 19, 2009

Whether your landlord signed it or not, or whether her husband signed it for her, and whether THAT makes her bound by it, is a valid question.

But you signed it, so YOU agreed to the terms, and you are bound by it.

posted by rokusan at 8:58 AM on July 19, 2009

I am not your lawyer. Your local law may differ.

Contracts generally require two things to be enforceable: offer and acceptance. Assuming he wrote the lease agtreement, that was the offer. You signed it, agreeing to it. Also, you moved in. You paid him rent, which he took.

There is almost certainly an enforceable contract there, whether or not it's the one you signed is a matter of evidence. But if he wrote the contract he's going to have a hard time wiggling out of it's terms once you moved in.
posted by mikewas at 9:34 AM on July 19, 2009

Sorry, misread the question. You will also be bound by the contract.
posted by mikewas at 9:35 AM on July 19, 2009

Some of my landlordin' forms have a line that says "Signature of landlord, or landlord's authorized representative". Others just say "Signature of landlord."

The husband -- especially for being a spouse -- is almost certainly an authorized representative, and it would be up to you to show otherwise, e.g. that he was renting without the knowledge of his wife and pocketing the cash.

In the past as a renter I've signed leases with supers and with non-spousal relatives of landlords. It is legally permissible to delegate this function.
posted by dhartung at 9:58 AM on July 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just to be even more anal, in a way not helpful to the OP, a contract that is under the statute of frauds (like a lease) still "exists" if not signed. A contract for, say, something illegal, never even legally exists. A fraudulent contract never exists.

A contract that is required to be in writing but is not, legally exists, but is normally not *enforceable*. (Also, a "contract" is a legal fiction, not a piece of paper. A piece of paper can only ever be a writing containing evidence of the contract.) There's a difference! That's why only the party to be charged needs to have signed the writing. And there are circumstances where a normally unenforceable contract may be enforced anyway (partial performance)--situations that substitute for the signature on the writing as evidence of agreement.

And even in situations where there is no contract, you always have to pay for value you've received.
posted by yesno at 10:32 AM on July 19, 2009

I've never signed a contract with the "landlord" always with a property manager, building manager, or other 'authorized agent' working on behalf of the landlord. It's legal and common.

Unless the husband was doing it without his wife's permission. Which he didn't. How do I know? Because you didn't mention the wife barging in to show the property since she didn't know her husband had rented it.

There might be a loophole, but this ain't it.
posted by Ookseer at 11:04 AM on July 19, 2009

yesno, actually, while leases of apartments are covered by the statute of frauds, leases for a year or less are an exception. So, no written contract is required.

/Goes back to studying for the bar
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:09 AM on July 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Find a lawyer. Leases are creatures of state law, which varies.

The person who signed your lease in lieu of the landlord was likely acting as a legal representative. I rent, and my place has changed ownership three times since I've been here. At no time has the person who owns the company who owns this complex signed my lease. The people signing it have been employees authorized to do so.
posted by justcorbly at 4:47 PM on July 19, 2009

Do you really need to involve the legal system at this point? Have you asked the landlord if you can leave early? Is he violating the agreement in some way that is detrimental to you? Does he know that?

If you just want to leave for no reason, and can't find anyone to sublet, you are really just stuck, that's how renting apartments works. Next time, if you're not sure about a place, ask for a shorter lease term. (For me, the lease is never the problem; the pain of moving is what keeps me in the same place :)
posted by jrockway at 8:27 PM on July 19, 2009

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