How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Ely Your Own Question

Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 88124
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
7286322
Type Your Legal Question Here...
Ely is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I signed and dated a lease when it was not signed and dated

Customer Question

I signed and dated a lease when it was not signed and dated by the landlord then mailed it back for East lansing in Michigan. The landlord had sent me the following statement: "We do not really have an application proses. You will fill out all of your information when you sign your lease. All you need to qualify is either a Guarantor (someone over the age of 25 that lives within that states) or a Pre-Paid Approval (1 and 1/2 times rent ($936), due before Move-In)".
My understanding was that without a guarantor or a prepaid approval sent I am not bound to the lease. The landlord claims otherwise. Please help me.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

Can you please tell me:

1) Do you WANT to force the lease, or would be willing to walk away?
2) Does the landlord have any deposit that they are keeping that is yours?

This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

1) I want to walk away from the lease

2) The landlord does not have any deposit from me. Only the lease that I signed.

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Thank you.

On this website, I do not always get to give good news, and I am afraid that this is one of these times.

There is a belief that both parties have to sign the agreement for it to be binding. This is true in many situations, but not all. According to the Uniform Commercial Code, adopted in 19 large part in 1962, a contract only needs to be signed by the party to be charged to be binding.

Since you signed it, and you are the party to be charged, it is binding, arguably.

However, the way that a landlord forces performance by you is twofold:

1) Threatening to keep the deposit, and
2) Possibly pursuing you for breaching the contract.

They have no deposit, so this is not effective. They can threaten to sue you in small claims court for breach of the lease, but this costs about $100 to file and months to be heard in court. Even then, if you do not pay, it is fairly time-consuming to attempt to force judgment payment, and there are no guarantees.

As such, the likelihood of them pursuing you is small, although they still have that ability because technically, you became bound to the contract once you signed it - as explained above - even if they did not.

What someone in your situation may wish to do is to send a letter to the landlord backing out of the lease. With luck, the landlord would simply drop the matter. Let me know if you need such an example of a letter.

Good luck.

Please note: I aim to give you genuine information and not necessarily to tell you only what you wish to hear. Please, rate me on the quality of my information and do not punish me for my honesty. I understand that hearing things less than optimal is not easy, and I empathize.

Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE my answer when we are finished. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces and then submit, as this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith. (You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.)
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Ely,


 


Please send me an example of a letter to back out of the lease.


 


I have two other questions.


1. I am providing below a section from the lease with the default and remedies. Can you tell me what would happen if then sue me to small claims court? Will it affect my credit history? What if they win the case then would I have to pay for the entire amount?



 


2.If the following is true then my understanding is that they have 20 days to fix it or the entire lease becomes void. Please confirm.


 


I believe they have violated several clauses of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act (MCL 445.901 to 445.922), for instance regarding the approval process of the lease, as well as waiving application and activity fees in concession addendum, which required an additional "event to occur subsequent to the consummation of the transaction."


The additional event was me sending a guarantor or a pre-paid approval form within 14 days after signing the lease application form). Please refer to the underlined section:


445.903 Unfair, unconscionable, or deceptive methods, acts, or practices in conduct of trade or commerce; rules; applicability of subsection (1)(hh).


Sec. 3.


(1) Unfair, unconscionable, or deceptive methods, acts, or practices in the conduct of trade or commerce are unlawful and are defined as follows:


(a) Causing a probability of confusion or misunderstanding as to the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods or services.


(w) Representing that a consumer will receive a rebate, discount, or other benefit as an inducement for entering into a transaction, if the benefit is contingent on an event to occur subsequent to the consummation of the transaction.
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Awa,

1. I am providing below a section from the lease with the default and remedies. Can you tell me what would happen if then sue me to small claims court? Will it affect my credit history? What if they win the case then would I have to pay for the entire amount?

If they successfully sue you and get judgment, then this WILL impact your credit score, although to what extent is unpredictable since the FICO formula is very complex. Perhaps 20 points, perhaps more or less.

If they win the case, then the Judge at their discretion may or may not tag on legal fees to the judgment itself.

As for your Michigan Consumer Protection Act argument, I am afraid that this may not be valid. A transaction that this Act deals with has to do with PURCHASE of an ITEM or SERVICE. However, it does not apply to landlord/tenant matters. I am sorry. I just do not see the Judge buying that argument.

Sample letter:

Dear ____________,

This is in correspondence to your letter dated ____, wherein you discuss the lease. Apologies, I do not have anyone who can qualify as the guarantor. As such, my application is therefore withdrawn. My apologies again. I now consider this matter closed. Best of luck with finding another tenant.

Sincerely,

Signature

Name


Actually, your claim that you cannot find a guarantor HELPS you because this way, you do not "qualify" for the lease.

In other words, they cannot claim a breach of contract if they demanded something else which you cannot provide, anyhow.

So you really have little to fear here, and them pursuing suit is ever more unlikely.

Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE and submit your rating when we are finished.
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 88124
Experience: Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
Ely and 8 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Eli thank you for your help. One last question.


I send the letter and I wait for the reply? In the meantime should I honor the rent?

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello,

You are welcome. I cannot tell you what to do, but if someone wishes to argue that no contract was in place, then perhaps no rent should be paid. Of course, if living there, one should consider moving out...
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Ely,


 


In the previous correspondence you said that my Michigan Consumer Protection Argument would not stand a chance in front of a judge. But if you follow the link below, you will see at Q3, point 13 states that the Michigan Consumer Protection Act is included in the Michigan Truth in Renting Act.


 


http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/publications/tenantlandlord.pdf


 


I brought to their attention that I believe they have violated several clauses of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act (MCL 445.901 to 445.922), for instance regarding the approval process of the lease, as well as waiving the application and activity fees in concession addendum only if I provide a guarantor within two weeks of signing the lease. So the violation is related to the following in the Michigan consumer protection act:


 


445.903 Unfair, unconscionable, or deceptive methods, acts, or practices in conduct of trade or commerce; rules; applicability of subsection (1)(hh).


 


Sec. 3.


"(w) Representing that a consumer will receive a rebate, discount, or other benefit as an inducement for entering into a transaction, if the benefit is contingent on an event to occur subsequent to the consummation of the transaction."


 


Again under the link above, Q 4 states that if the lease contains a provision that violates the truth in renting act then the provision is void. I have brought it to their attention and my understanding is that if they fail to fix it within 20 days I may bring an action to void the entire lease. How would I go about that.


 


I know that we are working under the assumption that the lease is void because I do not qualify but I want to be on the safe side and explore all the options.


 


Thanks.


 


 

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Awa,

I am going to be honest, I do not believe that what the landlord did qualifies as "unfair, unconscionable, or deceptive methods, acts, or practices." Frankly, neither would the Judge. You may attempt to use this argument of course, and if so, by all means. I personally simply do not believe it to be very effective in this situation. Please forgive me for being honest.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Ely,


 


Thank you for being honest. I will just go with the fact that I do not qualify for the lease because I cannot find a guarantor or pay in advance 1 month 1/2 of rent (pre-paid approval) although I signed it. I hope this matter won't escalate. I have sent then the letter and haven't heard back from them.

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your gratuity and best of luck.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Dear Ely,


 


I am coming back to you again for your assistance.


 


I have sent the letter to the landlord (it is a company that manages a residence for students) as you have advised. I called back to check whether they had received it and what is the status of the matter. They refused to talk to me and said that I now have to deal with their lawyer. They provided me with his phone number but I have not been able to get a hold of him. The manager told me that as far as he is concerned I have a leasing agreement with them even if I did not fulfill the guarantor requirement. From your experience how likely is it that the lawyer takes this matter to small claims court ? And if they do can the judge rule that I have to pay for the 12 months of rent even though I have 1) not moved into the apartment (the lease starts on Aug 23) and 2) I do not intend to move in.


 


Thanks!

Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello,

Sorry about that. As stated before, they recognize the contract as valid, and it looks like they did not goo for your bluff.

From your experience how likely is it that the lawyer takes this matter to small claims court ?

I cannot answer that - that is too subjective.

And if they do can the judge rule that I have to pay for the 12 months of rent even though I have 1) not moved into the apartment (the lease starts on Aug 23) and 2) I do not intend to move in.

Not quite, but almost. You'd have to pay for:

The amount of time the property stood empty from August 23 when you did not move in until they found someone, and, possibly attorney fees (can vary widely).

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
< Last | Next >
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
  • My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer. Eric Redwood City, CA
  • I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight. Michael Wichita, KS
  • PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent. Three H. Houston, TX
  • Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!! Elaine Atlanta, GA
  • It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem. Tony Apopka, FL
  • Not only did he answer my Michigan divorce question but was also able to help me out with it, too. I have since won my legal case on this matter and thank you so much for it. Lee Michigan
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Tina

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    8436
    JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/MU/multistatelaw/2011-11-27_173951_Tinaglamourshotworkglow102011.64x64.jpg Tina's Avatar

    Tina

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    8436
    JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RA/ratioscripta/2012-6-13_2955_foto3.64x64.jpg Ely's Avatar

    Ely

    Counselor at Law

    Satisfied Customers:

    19941
    Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/FL/FLAandNYLawyer/2012-1-27_14349_3Fotolia25855429M.64x64.jpg FiveStarLaw's Avatar

    FiveStarLaw

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    8189
    25 years of experience helping people like you.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/jespoag/2008-12-17_222355_jessepic.jpg JPEsq's Avatar

    JPEsq

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    2132
    Experience as general attorney, in house counsel, SSDI, Family Law attorney, and law professor
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/gsenmartin/2008-04-22_214950_me1.jpg Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq.'s Avatar

    Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    110
    7+ years of experience handling various legal matters.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PA/PaulmoJD/2013-10-10_195858_JAImage.64x64.jpg Law Educator, Esq.'s Avatar

    Law Educator, Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    31621
    JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/dkaplun/2009-05-17_173121_headshot_1_2.jpg Dimitry K., Esq.'s Avatar

    Dimitry K., Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    15975
    Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.