Shouldn't our landlord sign the lease too?
May 28, 2007 8:11 PM   Subscribe

We signed a lease (2 copies) on a new apartment in NYC, at our broker's office. The 2 copies were sent to the management company. As promised, the management company sent one of the copies back to us about a week later. It's got our original signatures, but the landlord didn't sign it! The line for the landlord's signature is empty. Doesn't this mean that we're bound to the terms of the contract, but the landlord is not? It seems very wrong. Is it normal? Should we demand a copy of the lease with the signatures of both parties on it?
posted by edlundart to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You should have had a lawyer. I mean you MUST have had a lawyer, right? ask her or him!
posted by longsleeves at 8:31 PM on May 28, 2007

IANAL (I'm anal, and not a lawyer) but yeah, I'd demand a signature as legally there is no contract. There would be nothing to prevent him from evicting you.
posted by hodyoaten at 8:31 PM on May 28, 2007

It probably isn't a big deal, but I totally agree that they should have signed it. Not a big deal because verbal contracts are perfectly valid, and imagine the landlord trying to convince a court that they didn't agree with the terms, considering that they furnished the contract in the first place!

Who has a lawyer when signing a lease? Sometimes this place is crazy.
posted by Chuckles at 8:57 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Contact your broker or the management company - it might be normal practice for the landlord to only sign one copy, which is kept on file. After all you only need a copy of the contract to know what each parties obligations and responsibilities are.

You could certainly request a copy of the lease bearing the landlord's signature. (In my experience you'll make more headway doing that than demanding anything)

As long as the landlord has signed a copy of the lease then there is a contract.

If he has not signed and accepted the terms of the lease then:

a) there is no contract - you can't be bound unless the landlord is.

b) The contract might effectively be operating, binding you both to its terms.

Even if he has not signed a copy of the lease once you enter into occupation of the premises and started paying rent (or take other action in reliance upon the contract being in force) the contract can probably be relied upon (although it might require court action to enforce the terms).

Don't panic. Remain calm and polite.
It's probably nothing - but let us know.
posted by Rc at 8:58 PM on May 28, 2007

IANAL, but I doubt the contract is binding until both parties sign. I mean, imagine that you just wrote up some contract with terms like "Landlord must provide daily massages to Tenant" and signed it. Surely it would not be binding until the landlord signs too.

But it was probably just an oversight. Call the management company, explain that "naturally" you're gonna need a properly executed copy within 24 hours. If they don't say "oops" and "of course!" then you can worry.

Until you've got the signed copy in hand, don't do anything that can't be undone. Just in case. /been there...
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 8:59 PM on May 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

You should have had a lawyer. I mean you MUST have had a lawyer, right? ask her or him!

Why should anyone have a lawyer intervene in a matter as simple as signing a lease? Why MUST they have had one? Most of the folks I know that live here in NYC signed a lease to get their apartment, and if a single one of them consulted a lawyer in doing so, I'll eat my Gamecube.

I don't see the need to "demand" anything. Call the management company, explain the oversight as if it could have happened to anyone, and ask them to send you a signed copy ASAP. If they stall on this or tell you that you don't need one, feel free to tell them you don't understand and that perhaps they should discuss it with your lawyer. Again, nonthreateningly.

There is always the answer that the management company will give you on the first, second, and third attempt, and then there is the real answer. Make sure that's what you're getting before you proceed. And yes, both parties need to have signed it. This cutting of corners is pretty typical across the board in NYC, and while they'll shake their head in bewilderment at you for being a stickler for the rules, you can bet your teeth that they'd have pounced on those same rules in a second if they'd needed to, say, if YOU had neglected to sign.
posted by hermitosis at 9:00 PM on May 28, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the calming advice. It's just that I've had my fill of NYC landlords' "oversights" already, and I'm sick of their bullshit. But yes, I'll try the cool and collected approach and hopefully they'll respond well and give us a proper signed contract.
posted by edlundart at 9:05 PM on May 28, 2007

In my experience (past 3 apartments), the landlord/management company kept the copy of the lease that had both signatures on file, and returned the other copy, without their signature on it. I'm not sure why they didn't just make a photocopy of the original, but it seems to be some sort of standard.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 9:07 PM on May 28, 2007

There isn't a lease in the first place unless both parties have signed it. As a signator, you are absolutely entitled to a copy of the countersigned document. This is toward the beginning of the first fifteen minutes of Contracts 101.

I don't think anything scary is going on, though -- the landlord either forgot to sign their copy or their upstairs neighbor's neice's boyfriend confused them and made them think two signatures were one too many.

Politely, and then politely but firmly if necessary, contact your landlord and arrange to have the lease countersigned.
posted by gum at 11:48 PM on May 28, 2007

If this is their standard practice, you can bet you're not the first people to ask for a copy of the fully signed document.

It could be that the management company sign on behalf of the landlord and dont want the hassle of explaining that (I dont know if thats legal in the US but in the UK its pretty common for the management company to be given permission to sign on the landlord's behalf) so they keep that copy for themselves, or they're just too lazy to sign both. I've never seen why you have to sign both and cant just photocopy the one but thats just the way it goes.

Just phone them up and ask politely for a photocopy of the contract with the Landlord's signature, you're perfectly entitled and you're probably not the first to ask.
posted by missmagenta at 1:33 AM on May 29, 2007

Do you have the cover letter they sent when attaching the lease?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 3:43 AM on May 29, 2007

You should have had a lawyer. I mean you MUST have had a lawyer, right? ask her or him!

He's renting the place, not purchasing it.
posted by bshort at 4:42 AM on May 29, 2007

I worked for a contractor, and whenever we had clients that didn't live in the area, we would send them two copies of the contract- both signed by my boss. We would ask for one copy back. As long as that one was signed, we were fine.

imagine the landlord trying to convince a court that they didn't agree with the terms, considering that they furnished the contract in the first place!

Exactly- they gave you a contract and handed (or will hand you) keys. Even if their copy has no signature, there sure is intent.

the contract can probably be relied upon (although it might require court action to enforce the terms).

Even if both copies were signed, a renter might have this problem. Sometimes it does take court action to get a landlord or renter to fufil the terms.

IANAL, I don't know NY law, etc.
posted by Monday at 5:25 AM on May 29, 2007

Depending on your state there does not have to be signatures from both parties to constitute a lease agreement. After a set amount of time of moving in and living there it is assumed all parties are agreeing to the terms of the lease. I have / had my CA and NYC real estate liscense and while I can't remember the specific terms or time limitis this was common in both states.

Ie. I move in to an apartment, with the lease in hand, forget to sign it and live there for 3 months, I'm still obligated to follow the lease, vice versa for the landlord.

But if you want a sign copy, just ask for one. If you request it they are required to provide it.

Cheers to your new place apt in NYC!
posted by crewshell at 10:05 AM on May 29, 2007

yeah, duh, it would always be a great idea to have a lawyer for everything, heck, if i could chain a couple of good lawyers to my waist and take them around with me throughout my day i would...but who can afford it!?

it is a good idea tho, of course
posted by Salvatorparadise at 11:31 AM on May 29, 2007

(I would have posted this earlier, but my lawyer was wiping my butt)

I've had this happen before, don't sweat it. Ever rented from a holding company before? Get used to everything taking 5 calls to get done.
posted by mkultra at 12:12 PM on May 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks to all of you. Just an update: We (politely) asked about getting another copy with both signatures on it, through our realtor, and it does appear as though they intend to honor the request. It may take a few more phone calls, but I think it will eventually work out. I'll post another update when we know more.
posted by edlundart at 10:56 AM on May 31, 2007

Response by poster: Update: We finally got our contract. It took asking a gazillion times, seemingly pissing off our super, and putting some light pressure on. Everything seems smoothed over now, and we're happy to feel a bit safer and more settled here.
posted by edlundart at 10:13 PM on July 17, 2007

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