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Tina
Tina, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 5436
Experience:  17 years of legal experience including real estate law.
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I am interested in filing in small claims court. It is well

Customer Question

I am interested in filing in small claims court.
It is well known that moving is a major stressor in a person's life. The following situation will bring new meaning to this statement. We rented a home in Florida that was MLS listed. We negotiated via telephone and email from Philadelphia. We complied with everything the owner and his agent required from us including multiple deposits. The lease was signed and witnessed by the owner and us and so was the HOA application, which also required an additional deposit. We sent the form UPS overnight. The owner, upon receipt of all papers, said everything was fine.
The lease was to start on Dec. 1, 2015. We arrived before Thanksgiving to avoid the holiday traffic. When we arrived early, the owner's agent, Peggy Bauer, of Palm Beach Realty, said we would have to sign an addendum to pay for the extra days and again we complied. The house was vacant.
After one day in the house, the owner’s agent, Peggy, said that the HOA stated we couldn't stay there and we would have to live in a pet-friendly hotel until the original date on the lease. (We had agreed to pay for the extra days, as requested by the agent.) My wife, Andee went to stay at her cousin's apartment and and the dogs and I went to a hotel. The listing agent told us we could move in on December 1, 2015. Again, we slept on a down comforter on the floor and told the trucking company to deliver one of three trucks on December 2, 2015. Right before we started to have the truck unloaded, we got a call that the owner was in violation of his mortgage agreement and could not rent the home for a year after settlement. He bought the home in October, 2015. The agent told us we had 20 days to move out. I assume the owner and his agent never read his agreement of sale, and went ahead and listed it on the MLS, went ahead with the paperwork, received deposits and gave us rules we had to follow.
Now we are still living in a vacant home with no personal belongings, TV, Internet, kitchen essentials, etc. Our moving trucks are sitting in a storage lot and we will have to pay for that also. We have been relentlessly looking for a place to live. This time of year there are limited choices in our price range .
On December 10, 2015, the homeowner and his agent came over and told us at 10:15 AM that we had to be out of the house by 4:00 PM today, according to the HOA which they said has power over the owner. They said the 20 days limit was not accurate. They are going to change the gate code so we can't come back to the house and accuse us of trespassing. They did change the gate code. We knew (common sense) that this wasn’t legal. Our lives and our business is interrupted because we can't live here and have to vacate. All of our business belonging are also on the trucks. All of our money is tied up in this property and we have no rights, according to them, which they blame on the HOA.
The stress and living conditions have taken a toll on us. We were completely innocent of this mess prior to coming to Florida. The homeowner and his agent have exhibited inexcusable behavior, ignorance and negligence. It should be a violation of real estate laws to list a home on the MLS illegally. It is also inhumane to impose this on two senior citizens.
The agent said that the HOA has no obligation to release their reasons for the abrupt termination of our lease and that the homeowner has to move into the house. We had complied with everything (signed documents and gave deposits).
We also needed adequate time to find another place to live. We told them we would move out as soon as we found another home. The
satisfactory home that we found wasn’t available until January 4, 2016. We stated that we needed our deposits retuned to us so we could
secure the other home. They wouldn’t release the money until we retuned the keys and garage openers to them. We hired an attorney so
that they would cease and desist from bothering us and return our money. After many heated discussions, the money was returned to us on
January 4, 2016. We have been existing without belongings in an empty dwelling for almost seven weeks. There were no apologies given to us
and they acted as though we were the ones at fault. Our agent also had to endure their inappropriate treatment, phone calls, and emails.
We have endured unspeakable and unimaginative hardships. Someone should be accountable for this.
We have receipts for food and other incidentals incurred during this unimaginable period.
My question is the homeowner had me sign a note releasing him from all obligations. He then gave me the balance of my deposit back. Before he gave back the deposit he made us remove all belongings from the home and outside he returned our deposit. Can we sue him for all the hardships he caused in spite of the note we signed, as we feel we signed under duress?
Thank you, *****
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 4 months ago.

Good afternoon Michael,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

This seems like a very crucial matter for you, and your questions and issues suggest that an in-depth conversation might best suit your needs. If you are interested, for a very nominal charge I can offer you a personal phone conference as opposed to continuing in this question and answer thread which is searchable and viewable by the public.

Let me know if you don't want a call and I will be happy continue here with an answer for you.

Either way, whether I call you or not, in order to give you a clear and concise answer, I will need some additional information about the circumstances, please.

1. Are you still living in the home you rented, or in a different vacant home?

2. After almost 10 months you still have not been able to find a place to live? Or did you find a place to lease in January? It isn't clear from your facts.

3. I am confused by your facts. You seem to state that you have been without your things for 7 weeks yet you suggest you found a new place to live in on January 4th----and now it is July seven months later.

4. Which of you signed the release note?

5. Which of you was an original signer of the lease agreement with the homeowner?

Thanks in advance,

Doug