How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask ScottyMacESQ Your Own Question
ScottyMacESQ, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 16840
Experience:  Licensed General Practice Attorney, Texas
Type Your Real Estate Law Question Here...
ScottyMacESQ is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I sign a lease agreement and had issues with the rental home

This answer was rated:

I sign a lease agreement and had issues with the rental home regarding termites, carpenter ants, etc. after multiple email exchanges (which I saved) between the owner and myself, the only main issue was fixed was carpenter ants. I paid 6 months in advance for the duration of my time. Now that the lease is over, The owner will not communicate with me anymore to reimburse my deposit owed to me among other things that was promised. I called the rental agent who showed us the house and admitted the agreement lease was created by the owner and no lawyer involved. The owner said she did have a lawyer. She lied. As I'm looking at the agreement lease I found in bottom of the paper where she created this fake form which is Zipform (create your own residential form). My question is can I sue her for a fake form with no lawyer and sue the real estate agent who knew about this and how do I get my money back?

ScottyMacESQ :

Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am researching your issue and will respond shortly.

ScottyMacESQ :

Were you charged or did you have any other expenses associated with this misrepresentation that she used a lawyer?

Customer: We paid the 6 months lease in full and was promised to give back our deposit plus reimburse us for inconvenience from termites, etc. and she said she needs to speak to her lawyer.....there never was a lawyer and the lease agreement is fake, she created it herself until I found out today from her broker
ScottyMacESQ :

Would you have acted differently had you known that she did not use a lawyer to draft the lease?

Customer: Yes, of course. We would never signed the lease
ScottyMacESQ :

Did you tell her this? That is, did she know that you would not have signed if she did not use a lawyer?

Customer: Both her and the broker told us the lawyer will receive copies. We took their word and the lease agreement looked legit. They used our innocence
Customer: My husband has insurance for rental
ScottyMacESQ :

Just because she didn't use a lawyer does not mean that the lease was invalid. There's absolutely no requirement that a lawyer be used to draft a lease or any other contract. A lease downloaded from the internet can be (and often are) valid and binding, no question about it. Most likely the lease that you signed WAS binding.

Customer: Can we sue her?
ScottyMacESQ :

now, if there was a misrepresentation that they used a lawyer, and this misrepresentation was made with the intent that you rely upon it, with knowledge that you would have acted differently had you not relied upon it, then that could be actionable if you can show harm as a result of that.

ScottyMacESQ :

Yes, you can absolutely sue her. you can sue her for the unreturned security deposit if she did not give you a written statement about what was being withheld within 30 days, as well as additional damages for not returning that to you.

ScottyMacESQ :

You can also sue for "loss of enjoyment" for the defects that she knew about but did not rectify.

Customer: All we want is our deposit back and damages for termites inside and outside the house and other issues as well
ScottyMacESQ :

In short, this is the difference between what you actually paid and what the rent was worth in light of the defects that went unremedied.

Customer: Thank you
ScottyMacESQ :

You can sue under the Texas security deposit law (which provides for treble damages and attorney’s fees for bad faith retention of the deposit, and makes failure to provide an itemization of damages within thirty days of demand a prima facie case of bad faith.)

ScottyMacESQ :

Send a demand letter demanding payment within 30 days, otherwise you will pursue legal action against him, seeking that amount plus any additional damages as allowed by law. Send this letter certified, return receipt requested, as well as a copy sent regular mail. Keep a copy for yourself, as well as the return receipt number so that you can show the court that you made a demand for the unpaid security deposit.

ScottyMacESQ :

Do a search on the web for your county and "small claims court." You should find either a website or phone number to the small claims clerk. Ask them what you need to do to bring such a lawsuit. The small claims clerk will give you guidance on how to file this suit and how to get the other party served with notice. You will receive a hearing date, at which you should present your evidence and ask for a judgment for the amount that you should be paid (including double the amount of the deposit for bad faith retention of that amount; hence "treble" damages (1x for the deposit itself, 2x for bad faith retention).

Customer: I will. Thank you
ScottyMacESQ :

My pleasure.If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX good luck to you!

ScottyMacESQ and 3 other Real Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you