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rvlaw, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 8386
Experience:  NYC Trial Attorney 30+ years; Law professor ; BUSINESS LAW; CONTRACTS; TORTS; Arbitrator
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Contract expired in November 2007 which had a 30 day notice

Customer Question

Contract expired in November 2007 which had a 30 day notice to terminate by both the parties
Sent letter 2/2008 advising that contract price would increase effective 3/1/2008
Went to pick up check in 3/2008 and before check would be given, had to sign document:
     Now on a month-to-month basis
     If my increase found to be excessive would have to pay it back
No time to review document—was intimidated into signing if I wanted my check.
All work was performed as required.
Received a letter on 5/31/08 saying services were terminated effective 6/1/08.
No 30 day notice given.
No meetings or responses to e-mails sent individuals regarding work prior to 5/31/08
What are my grounds to sue in small claims court and recover the lost month of income?
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  rvlaw replied 9 years ago.


What kind of contract? Was there an agreement as to "month to month? Was it oral or in writing? What EXACTLY was the "forcing to sign"?


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
It was a landscape contract with the homeowner's association. The original contract was from November 2006 to November 2007. In February 2008 he sent new contract with a $100 increase for the new year long contract. No communication from any member of the HOA board until he went to pick up his check and was presented with this document which says the following:

Although I am receiving a check from HOA for $1100 for landscape maintenance performed during the month of March 2008, it is understood that this is not an acceptance of an annual maintenance contract for the 12 months including and following March 2008 is later signed for a monthly payment of less than $1100/month, an amount equal to the difference shall be withheld from future monthly payment(s) on a schedule to be determined by the HOA Board of Directors.

Further I agree to provide, to the best of my ability, a detailed description of the maintenance activities I will be providing in March 2008 to the HOA by March 15, 2008.

Unfortunately, his first job doesn't pay a lot so this money pays his rent--he lives in Redmond, WA. Therefore, he depends on this money and when he was approached with this document, which the HOA would never have given to anyone else, he signed it as he needed his check for rent which was due on March 4, 2008--he picked up the check on 3/3/08. I believe he was bullied and intimidated into signing the document and he needed his rent money--they knew this and that's why they did this--they had approximately one month to call a meeting with him to discuss the new contract and never did. I am sure it took them longer to come up with the wording of this document than to have a meeting with him. All work was performed satisfactorily and if it wasn't then they should have terminated his services, but continuing to pay him, they agreed his work was satisfactory.

Now with the termination of his services--the original contract had a 30-day notice for both parties--he is out $1100 for the month of June 2008. Since an annual meeting in 3/08, the HOA Board was intent on terminating his contract as they had put the contract for landscape services out to bid and did not include him in the bidding process.

If the original intent was to terminate his services, why not send termination notice on 5/1/08 effective on 6/1/08.

If you would like further informatin, please call me at xxx xxx xxxx--my name is XXXXX XXXXX writing on behalf of my son.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
My last post to your request was on June 5 and I have not heard back from anyone.

Additional info that might be useful:

The HOA is holding him to the performance aspect of the contract that expired in November 2007, but they themselves don't want to be held to the termination clause. We don't believe they can pick and choose parts of the contract to follow and then not follow the other parts. We believe that it could also be perceived that the "month-to-month" contract is an extension of the contract that expired in November 2007.

Please reply--thank you.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I am getting very frustrated at your service. You have removed the money from my bank account--$19, but I expect to receive some type of answer. It has been 4 days and 19 hours since I last posted an additional comment to your request of June 5, 2008.

When can I expect to receive an answer?????

If I don't receive an answer within the next 24 hours, I will go to your site and request a refund of my $19.00

Thank you.
Expert:  rvlaw replied 9 years ago.

Sorry for the delay Elaine. It was a computer glitch and your question did not appear on my "questions' pending list.

I actually agree with one of your statements.:

"We don't believe they can pick and choose parts of the contract to follow and then not follow the other parts"

The problem is that works both ways.

Here are your problems with small claims suit

1. The new agreement IF IT IS ONE (SEE #2) is just can't rely on the 30 day notice requirement of the old contract.

2. "Now on a month-to-month basis
If my increase found to be excessive would have to pay it back "

This is not even a valid agreement...forced or not. One of the basic requirements of a contract is PRICE. If one party can change the price at will....No contract is formed.

3.. Your "forced into signing the new agreement" will be difficult to will be a he said/he said situation in court...the whole issue of "he knew my son needed the money" is a weak position.

As a litigation attorney for 30+ years, I think the case is weak at best, XXXXX XXXXX the cost of filing and service of papers being less than $100...your son may want to try.

By the way you card has not been charged. It is only charged when you press ACCEPT which would appear on the screen.



Customer: replied 9 years ago.
In summary what you are saying is that neither party had a binding contract--what both parties were working on was a verbal month-to-month contract so then neither the performance or termination clause is effective.

Based on what I believe you are saying then is that neither side would win in small claims court and it would be money spent to learn a lesson--always get it in writing no matter what.