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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 111681
Experience:  Licensed attorney practicing landlord-tenant, land use and other real estate law and litigation.
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I had a problem with my previous landlord. We signed

Customer Question

Hello,
I had a problem with my previous landlord. We signed an initial contract with a specific monthly rent, but about 5 days from my scheduled move-in, the landlord sent me a different monthly rent. I showed them what we signed for, but they said that the additional ($150) is for Time Warner which comes with the apartment i choose!!!! 5 days prior to my move-in. I had to sign on the contract because I had no other option as they informed me about it a few days before my move-in.
Now I heard that I can file a law suit against them. Would you advise me to do so?
The agreed upon rent was $3300/month and that was exactly a year ago
Regards,
Ali M. Alshaye
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Maverick replied 1 year ago.
Welcome! My name is Maverick. I very much enjoy what I do and I hope that you will benefit from this information.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=civ&group=01001-02000&file=1565-1590
At the link above you will find the law on how you might be able to go about excusing yourself from the contract. However, note:
1588. A contract which is voidable solely for want of due consent,
may be ratified by a subsequent consent.
The problem I see here is two fold. First, you have waited a year and apparently signed a new contract agreeing to the $150.00 fee and may have used the Time Warner services. The proper thing to have done at the time would have been to agree to the terms of the new contract under a reservation of your right to seek legal redress for the last minute changes which put you in a difficult position.
If that was done, then you could have still moved in and then sued under a declaratory judgment action to have the $150 fee removed since the original contract did not include it.
Suing now, you may find it an uphill battle to say the least because of Section 1588.
Please remember to assign a feedback rating so JA will compensate me for my time. You are free to ask follow-up questions thereafter at no charge. Please allow up to 24 hours for a follow-up response if I am signed off.
If, for some reason, you are not satisfied with the answer, I would appreciate knowing why so that I can try to clear up any misunderstanding that may have taken place and still earn a positive rating from you. If you would rather obtain a refund of your deposit, just let me know and I will inform JA on your behalf. Finally, you may request me in the future by beginning the question with "THIS IS FOR MAVERICK".
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Then what should I do? I was not aware of that and I was forced to sign the lease since I had no other options but to sign!
It was a last minute thing and I believe they did it in purpose because I would have looked somewhere else otherwise.
They also refused to move me to another apartment when I asked to for privacy since I was living in a beach front apartment and so many people walk by my window which was about 7 feet high.What can I do to get compensated for what happened?
Expert:  Maverick replied 1 year ago.
Would you advise me to do so?
You asked me for my opinion as to whether you should sue. My opinion is that you probably should not waste your time fighting over $1,800.00 given section 1588. Not knowing the law is typically not accepted by the courts as a reason to get out of a contract. Despite my opinion, it seems that you want to go forward anyways.
If you want to do that you can sue to reform the contract for undue influence under section 1575 and take a shot at it. See if the judge will force the LL to refund your $1,800.00.
You can do this in small claims court.
http://www.courts.ca.gov/1008.htm
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am considering to sue them as I am looking for an attorney to do so.
A friend of mine got compensated with $20,000 just because the housing company did not respond to his email. Is not my case more legit than that? Am I not gonna get compensated for all the hard time that they gave me as a result of forcing me to pay for services that I never used such as cable and home phone?
I mean the fact that they only notified me a couple of days prior to my actual move-in date should be an indicator of their intentions.I'm seeking advice and guidance, thats why I am here!
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Additionally, they took that off 6 months after my move-in because I kept emailing them to take that off.
Expert:  Maverick replied 1 year ago.
We probably have a different perspective on things. I am opting out at no charge to you so that another expert can give you a second opinion. You deposit is still in tact. Please do not respond to this message so another expert can lock on your question going forward.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
I am a different contributor.
As your previous contributor stated, this is not an open and shut case. Also, just because you know someone who got $20,000 allegedly because the landlord did not reply to an email, there are likely many more facts in that situation that are not being told.
Now, as far as your claim, your previous expert was correct in that one of your claims against the landlord would be based on coercion/undue influence. In addition, you can actually argue this was a bait and switch (suckering you in at one rent and at the last minute when you could not change they added more to the rent) and that could fall under the CA Consumer Protection Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act.
Your first recourse is filing a complaint with the CA Attorney General consumer protection unit, since they have the power to enforce unfair trade practices. Second, you could indeed sue the landlord if you can prove the unfair and deceptive practices (bait and switch) and can seek punitive damages (which can be up to 3 times your actual losses) and also attorney's fees.
So you can go to a local consumer protection law attorney to begin pursuing this case, but before you do so I would file a complaint with the Attorney General and also send the landlord a letter informing them that their practice was an unfair and deceptive practice and add up all of your actual losses and make a demand that they reimburse you for those losses or you will pursue legal action (this is known as giving them a right to cure).

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