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Richard, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 55134
Experience:  32 years of experience as lawyer in Texas. I'm also a Real Estate developer.
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I had an agreement to live in someone's home years.

Customer Question

I had an agreement to live in someone's home for five years. I provided the homeowner with general contracting services for four months prior to moving in (as home renovations took place) and then served as the property manager. I was not paid for any of my time (up to 30 hours per week) and I paid what was considered a reduced fee of $600 toward the mortgage (she paid $1000). I fulfilled my obligations completely and even paid for many home maintenance fees out of pocket (though she assured me this would NOT be my responsibility). I also painted walls and in general, improved the quality of her home greatly. After 10 months, however, I received an email stating she would be TRIPLING my rent to $1800 within two months AND also that she would be requesting a security deposit of the same amount. I did not ever have a written agreement in place (I requested one over and over but she never sent it) however I have hundreds of emails proving I was workjng as a general contractor for her during the time I was not living in the home (during this 4-month period) and I was paid nothing whatsoever. I have to move immediately as There's no way I can afford a $1200 increase in rent. Is there anything I can do and is what she is doing legal? Furthermore, I discovered that she was getting remodeling work done without the proper permits and I feared for my safety. Please help! Thank you kindly. Kristin Erickson***@******.***
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Richard replied 2 years ago.
Hi Kristin! My name is ***** ***** I look forward to helping you!
Yes, there is something you can do. Although in general a five year lease agreement would need to be evidenced by a signed written agreement. BUT, the The lack of a written contract can be overcome by the concepts of promissory estoppel, detrimental reliance, and unjust enrichment. This situation arises when Person A relied upon the verbal agreement, Person A performed based on such reliance, and because Person B defaulted, such reliance is now to Person A's detriment. Where there is i) partial performance by Person A based upon the mutual promises, ii) Person A relied upon such promises to perform, iii) Person B's failure to perform would be to Person A's detriment, and iv) result in Person B being unjustly enriched, Person A can overcome the legal requirement that the agreement be in writing. Your situation satisfies all the foregoing elements. One, do not pay the increased rent and do leave because she cannot force you out without an eviction hearing at which you would then present your case. Two, if she makes any move to evict you without an eviction order issued by a court, call the police as it will be an illegal eviction.
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