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Valid Lease?

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Valid Lease?

Postby eastsidedweller2008 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:04 pm

I am hoping someone here can help me.

The Management Company tried to increase the rent in June of last year. I entered into negotiations on keeping the old rent; talked to them a few times and they promised to get back to me. Of course they stopped returning my calls and when the lease renewal date came up and I had not heard back from them, I signed the renewal. BUT I changed the terms on the lease renewal to keep the rent at the same level as the old rent. I figured it would buy me some time.

Instead, the Management Company signed the lease - with all my handwritten changes included - and sent it back to me.

Now, they keep sending my notices for the increase in rent. I called back and told them no way - they signed the lease with the changes so they are bound by them. They said they disagreed. This has been going on for six months, so I finally talked to a lawyer friend of mine who informed me that:

(1) the management company is bound by the lease they signed, including my handwritten changes; and (2) if they disagreed, I could argue that as there was no meeting of the minds and there is a dispute on the lease, there isn't a valid lease and I am now on a month-to-month since I keep paying the rent and they keep taking it.

I would love a second opinion. Does anyone know NYC law on this? Am I really on a month-to-month?
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Postby TenantNet » Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:26 pm

Based in what you said, I would say you have a valid lease for the amount you entered. If they signed it, then they would be bound by it. You are not regulated, so it depends on what the parties agree to.

If they disagree, they can take you to court for the difference. Your signed lease is your defense. But be aware they will hose you on the next lease - or refuse a renewal altogether.

However, you should investigate if you should be rent stab.
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Postby eastsidedweller2008 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 6:15 pm

Thanks for the quick response.

Can I argue that I am on a month to month since they claim the lease is not valid but since then have been taking my money every month?
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Postby TenantNet » Fri Feb 17, 2012 6:50 pm

You can argue that Al Gore is the President. It doesn't matter except in the context of a court proceeding. And then, only perchance in response to whatever they claim.

Why would you even want to argue month-to-month? Makes no sense.
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Postby eastsidedweller2008 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:06 pm

The reason I want to argue month to month is that I want to see if I can move out earlier.

They keep claiming that even though they signed the lease with the old rent, I have to pay the increased rent. They are in the wrong I know but they don't care. They send me bills on an almost weekly basis and my phone calls and letters to them come to nothing. They refuse to respond to my letters in writing - they basically call and say they disagree and that I have to pay the increase in rent or they will take me to court. Please note that I have been paying the rent on time so they can't argue about that.

But, they also keep adding late fees so the amount I owe keeps growing. This has been happening quite dramatically in the past three months - where they have gotten aggressive. I would rather not go to court and deal with this so if there is even the chance that I could get out of the lease early and get away from these people I would like to take it.

If not, then I guess I am stuck but I wanted to know my options. Does this make sense?
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Postby ronin » Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:10 am

Something is wrong here. You changed the terms on what? Both copies? And they signed the changed rent on both copies and sent you one?

Did you initial the changes, and did they? Just slipping in changes may not go over well. That stuff played out in the 30's and 40's. Just like writing on the back of the check "you agree my rent is $0 for the next 30 years" most courts in the US would allow the LL to endorse and deposit it without making your add-on enforceable. A lot has changed in the law since the days of the sneaky amendments....

Your argument of being month to month seems kinda frivolous. If you proposed the changes and signed them, then you are bound by them. If the court strikes your changes you are stuck with the lease as they sent it. But you are definitely not month to month!

IMHO
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Postby TenantNet » Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:36 am

But there are exceptions. See Snide v. Larrow, 62 N.Y.2d 633, 634 [1984]. Also see A & E Tiebout Realty, LLC v Johnson 2009 NY Slip Op 50715(U) [23 Misc 3d 1112(A)]
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Postby ronin » Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:13 am

Can't see the second case but the 1984 Court of Appeals one really isn't the same thing as listed above. That case involved someone paying $300 per month when they were supposed to pay $200 per month and then stopping monthly payments after they had a credit due on the entire contract.

Not the same as unilaterally changing the terms and proceeding forward. However, that has been done by courts in the past, but that is not the general rule these days which is that corporations rule- ie shrinkwrap terms on software and websites. Stuff no one actually reads or knows about. It seems like that is starting to change though, so who knows.

Maybe you could email me the second case so I could give it a looksee. Seems like a slip opinion, so it's what it is.
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