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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
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I signed and dated a lease when it was not signed and dated

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I signed and dated a lease when it was not signed and dated by the landlord then mailed it back for East lansing in Michigan. The landlord had sent me the following statement: "We do not really have an application proses. You will fill out all of your information when you sign your lease. All you need to qualify is either a Guarantor (someone over the age of 25 that lives within that states) or a Pre-Paid Approval (1 and 1/2 times rent ($936), due before Move-In)".
My understanding was that without a guarantor or a prepaid approval sent I am not bound to the lease. The landlord claims otherwise. Please help me.
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

Can you please tell me:

1) Do you WANT to force the lease, or would be willing to walk away?
2) Does the landlord have any deposit that they are keeping that is yours?

This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

1) I want to walk away from the lease

2) The landlord does not have any deposit from me. Only the lease that I signed.

Thank you.

On this website, I do not always get to give good news, and I am afraid that this is one of these times.

There is a belief that both parties have to sign the agreement for it to be binding. This is true in many situations, but not all. According to the Uniform Commercial Code, adopted in 19 large part in 1962, a contract only needs to be signed by the party to be charged to be binding.

Since you signed it, and you are the party to be charged, it is binding, arguably.

However, the way that a landlord forces performance by you is twofold:

1) Threatening to keep the deposit, and
2) Possibly pursuing you for breaching the contract.

They have no deposit, so this is not effective. They can threaten to sue you in small claims court for breach of the lease, but this costs about $100 to file and months to be heard in court. Even then, if you do not pay, it is fairly time-consuming to attempt to force judgment payment, and there are no guarantees.

As such, the likelihood of them pursuing you is small, although they still have that ability because technically, you became bound to the contract once you signed it - as explained above - even if they did not.

What someone in your situation may wish to do is to send a letter to the landlord backing out of the lease. With luck, the landlord would simply drop the matter. Let me know if you need such an example of a letter.

Good luck.

Please note: I aim to give you genuine information and not necessarily to tell you only what you wish to hear. Please, rate me on the quality of my information and do not punish me for my honesty. I understand that hearing things less than optimal is not easy, and I empathize.

Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE my answer when we are finished. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces and then submit, as this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith. (You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.)
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Ely,


 


Please send me an example of a letter to back out of the lease.


 


I have two other questions.


1. I am providing below a section from the lease with the default and remedies. Can you tell me what would happen if then sue me to small claims court? Will it affect my credit history? What if they win the case then would I have to pay for the entire amount?



 


2.If the following is true then my understanding is that they have 20 days to fix it or the entire lease becomes void. Please confirm.


 


I believe they have violated several clauses of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act (MCL 445.901 to 445.922), for instance regarding the approval process of the lease, as well as waiving application and activity fees in concession addendum, which required an additional "event to occur subsequent to the consummation of the transaction."


The additional event was me sending a guarantor or a pre-paid approval form within 14 days after signing the lease application form). Please refer to the underlined section:


445.903 Unfair, unconscionable, or deceptive methods, acts, or practices in conduct of trade or commerce; rules; applicability of subsection (1)(hh).


Sec. 3.


(1) Unfair, unconscionable, or deceptive methods, acts, or practices in the conduct of trade or commerce are unlawful and are defined as follows:


(a) Causing a probability of confusion or misunderstanding as to the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods or services.


(w) Representing that a consumer will receive a rebate, discount, or other benefit as an inducement for entering into a transaction, if the benefit is contingent on an event to occur subsequent to the consummation of the transaction.
Awa,

1. I am providing below a section from the lease with the default and remedies. Can you tell me what would happen if then sue me to small claims court? Will it affect my credit history? What if they win the case then would I have to pay for the entire amount?

If they successfully sue you and get judgment, then this WILL impact your credit score, although to what extent is unpredictable since the FICO formula is very complex. Perhaps 20 points, perhaps more or less.

If they win the case, then the Judge at their discretion may or may not tag on legal fees to the judgment itself.

As for your Michigan Consumer Protection Act argument, I am afraid that this may not be valid. A transaction that this Act deals with has to do with PURCHASE of an ITEM or SERVICE. However, it does not apply to landlord/tenant matters. I am sorry. I just do not see the Judge buying that argument.

Sample letter:

Dear ____________,

This is in correspondence to your letter dated ____, wherein you discuss the lease. Apologies, I do not have anyone who can qualify as the guarantor. As such, my application is therefore withdrawn. My apologies again. I now consider this matter closed. Best of luck with finding another tenant.

Sincerely,

Signature

Name


Actually, your claim that you cannot find a guarantor HELPS you because this way, you do not "qualify" for the lease.

In other words, they cannot claim a breach of contract if they demanded something else which you cannot provide, anyhow.

So you really have little to fear here, and them pursuing suit is ever more unlikely.

Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE and submit your rating when we are finished.
Ely and 7 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Eli thank you for your help. One last question.


I send the letter and I wait for the reply? In the meantime should I honor the rent?

Hello,

You are welcome. I cannot tell you what to do, but if someone wishes to argue that no contract was in place, then perhaps no rent should be paid. Of course, if living there, one should consider moving out...
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Ely,


 


In the previous correspondence you said that my Michigan Consumer Protection Argument would not stand a chance in front of a judge. But if you follow the link below, you will see at Q3, point 13 states that the Michigan Consumer Protection Act is included in the Michigan Truth in Renting Act.


 


http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/publications/tenantlandlord.pdf


 


I brought to their attention that I believe they have violated several clauses of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act (MCL 445.901 to 445.922), for instance regarding the approval process of the lease, as well as waiving the application and activity fees in concession addendum only if I provide a guarantor within two weeks of signing the lease. So the violation is related to the following in the Michigan consumer protection act:


 


445.903 Unfair, unconscionable, or deceptive methods, acts, or practices in conduct of trade or commerce; rules; applicability of subsection (1)(hh).


 


Sec. 3.


"(w) Representing that a consumer will receive a rebate, discount, or other benefit as an inducement for entering into a transaction, if the benefit is contingent on an event to occur subsequent to the consummation of the transaction."


 


Again under the link above, Q 4 states that if the lease contains a provision that violates the truth in renting act then the provision is void. I have brought it to their attention and my understanding is that if they fail to fix it within 20 days I may bring an action to void the entire lease. How would I go about that.


 


I know that we are working under the assumption that the lease is void because I do not qualify but I want to be on the safe side and explore all the options.


 


Thanks.


 


 

Awa,

I am going to be honest, I do not believe that what the landlord did qualifies as "unfair, unconscionable, or deceptive methods, acts, or practices." Frankly, neither would the Judge. You may attempt to use this argument of course, and if so, by all means. I personally simply do not believe it to be very effective in this situation. Please forgive me for being honest.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Ely,


 


Thank you for being honest. I will just go with the fact that I do not qualify for the lease because I cannot find a guarantor or pay in advance 1 month 1/2 of rent (pre-paid approval) although I signed it. I hope this matter won't escalate. I have sent then the letter and haven't heard back from them.

Thank you for your gratuity and best of luck.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Dear Ely,


 


I am coming back to you again for your assistance.


 


I have sent the letter to the landlord (it is a company that manages a residence for students) as you have advised. I called back to check whether they had received it and what is the status of the matter. They refused to talk to me and said that I now have to deal with their lawyer. They provided me with his phone number but I have not been able to get a hold of him. The manager told me that as far as he is concerned I have a leasing agreement with them even if I did not fulfill the guarantor requirement. From your experience how likely is it that the lawyer takes this matter to small claims court ? And if they do can the judge rule that I have to pay for the 12 months of rent even though I have 1) not moved into the apartment (the lease starts on Aug 23) and 2) I do not intend to move in.


 


Thanks!

Hello,

Sorry about that. As stated before, they recognize the contract as valid, and it looks like they did not goo for your bluff.

From your experience how likely is it that the lawyer takes this matter to small claims court ?

I cannot answer that - that is too subjective.

And if they do can the judge rule that I have to pay for the 12 months of rent even though I have 1) not moved into the apartment (the lease starts on Aug 23) and 2) I do not intend to move in.

Not quite, but almost. You'd have to pay for:

The amount of time the property stood empty from August 23 when you did not move in until they found someone, and, possibly attorney fees (can vary widely).