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LandlordTenantAnswer, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 28320
Experience:  Landlord-Tenant Disputes, Leases, Evictions, Foreclosures.
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I'm a tenant of eight years at the same property. There was

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Hi - I'm a tenant of eight years at the same property. There was an understanding (initially in writing as an addendum to an 18month lease) that I would have first option to buy the property. I paid a $10,000 payment for that right. When the lease expired I had not yet purchased the property, but continued to live at the property with a mutual understanding that my intent was to buy. At the beginning of the year, my landlord had me sign a new month to month rental agreement. - which he terminated a few weeks ago. During the eight years I've been here, I've materially improved his property, yet he refuses to compensate me for the time and money - can I use the Unjust Enrichment law ?
JA: Since estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Massachusetts
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: He served me a 30 day notice to quit terminating the rental agreement, and has subsequently served a 14 day notice to quit because I didn't pay rent on Aug 1st
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Is the lawyer experienced in complex Landlord/ tenant disputes?

Hi! I will be the professional that will be helping you today. I look forward to providing you with information to help with your question and concern

Good afternoon. Are you able to buy the home? Did the agreement and the payment of $10,000 have a date in which this had to be done?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I'm not able to buy it now because the landlord wants to move back in. The original lease was for 18 months, but does not explicitly say I would forfeit the $10,000 if I did not buy within the period of the lease
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
According to MA housing law I was Tenant at sufferance from March 2011 until Jan 2017, when he had me sign a month to month rental agreement. However, during that period when no "formal" agreement was in place, it was mutually understood that I wanted to buy the property

Thank you for the reply. The reason issue is if/when you had to exercise the right to buy or if you could continue to rent until you were ready. When giving someone $10,000 to have this right, there needed to be specifics, regarding the terms and conditions of it. If nothing was said and you can not buy it and the landlord is offering to sell, they may argue that they can impose a claim on it and keep it, since you are declining the option. Of course, you would need to argue that you had until X to decide and that time has yet to come. Any improvements which you made were voluntary and own your own and you did so, knowing you may or may not be able to buy the home. The landlord does not have to pay you for these improvements and if you voluntarily made them, are at risk for losing the money for them. If there was an agreement to buy, it needs to be reduced to writing and there needs to be evidence to support it. For example, what was the purchase price? When would you close? What were the financing terms? Etc. If none of this was present and the lease expired and you rented month to month, the tenancy could be terminated, so at this point, it is about either buying the home and exercising your right or if you can not, trying to get your $10,000 back.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
there were specific terms, an agreed purchase price of $529,900. the landlord also agreed to put $700 of the monthly rental amount ($2500) toward the purchase price. No closing date is specified though

If that was the case, the issue is how long that option will be held open for. Was it the term of the lease? Was the landlord required to extend your lease? I understand you paid $10,000 but was it ever discussed, regarding when you could buy it or did you just think you could at any time and the landlord would continue to lease to you?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
My guess, it's implied that it was for the term of the lease, even though that is not explicitly stated

If that was the case and the lease expired and you did not exercise it, the landlord could argue that they can impose a claim and do not have to return it. I know this is not ideal but if there is nothing to evidence how long you had this option for, the Judge would go by the intent of the parties and if it was to buy it during or at the end of the lease and that did not happen, the landlord did nothing wrong by selling it to someone else or not allowing you to continue to lease.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I still believe there is mileage in the Unjust Enhancements law - when I moved in, the in-ground pool was completely derelict and non -functional. I restored the pool to fully functioning condition - which is a considerable factor toward the value of the house for which he will ultimately gain - I've read some cases where this law was upheld in favor of the tenant.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
^^ unjust enrichment - my mistake

Did you ask the landlord to fix this or did it on your own? Why not ask them to fix this or make it a condition to the sale?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I asked the landlord to pay for the materials, he said no, I went ahead anyway. My bad I guess but the lease clearly stated I had the right to use the property and it's amenities - how could I "use" a derelict swimming pool?
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I think I'll take my chances at jury court that the landlord deceived me and will benefit from unjust enrichment.

Yes, you can sue. If you do, you would need to show fraud, misrepresentation or reliance on an agreement that you had orally. If you can do that, you would have a right to recover.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
OK, thanks for the help

You are welcome. Please let me know if there is anything else, as I would be happy to respond. If not, please remember to rate my help at this time at the top of this page, prior to leaving, so I can receive the proper credit, for our time together. A 5 STAR rating is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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