Can we sue for the cost of moving our home based on breach of an oral contract?

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Can we sue for the cost of moving our home based on breach of an oral contract?

We moved our mobilehome onto property based on the owner’s promise that we could live there as long as he owned the property. In exchange, my boyfriend worked on his equipment whenever he needed. We had nothing in writing only a verbal agreement in front of several witnesses. My boyfriend has kept up on his end of the agreement. Now after less than a year he wants us to move. The county has fined him because there were no permits when we put our mobile in. We offered to pay for the permits when we put our mobile here but he said there was no need. Now he says that he will evict us.

Asked on August 16, 2010 under Business Law, California

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You could sue the owner for breach of contract.  Although the contract was oral, you detrimentally relied on the owner's assurances that you could move the mobile home onto the property as long as the owner owned the property.  Detrimental reliance means that you would not have moved the mobile home onto the property without the owner's assurance that you could stay there as long as the owner owned the property.  In addition to the detrimental reliance establishing the existence of the oral contract, your boyfriend working on the owner's equipment as part of the agreement would also provide additional evidence of an existing contract because a bargained for exchange of services (working on the equipment in exchange for having the mobile home on the property)  is an essential element of a contract.  The fact that were several witnesses to the verbal agreement also provides you with additional evidence of an existing contract.

Your damages (the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit) would be the cost of moving.

An alternative remedy instead of seeking damages would be to sue the owner and seek specific performance of the contract.  Specific performance would be a court's decision ordering the owner to perform his obligations under the contract by allowing your mobile home to remain on the property.  This might be preferable to the inconvenience of moving your mobile home to another location.

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You could sue the owner for breach of contract.  Although the contract was oral, you detrimentally relied on the owner's assurances that you could move the mobile home onto the property as long as the owner owned the property.  Detrimental reliance means that you would not have moved the mobile home onto the property without the owner's assurance that you could stay there as long as the owner owned the property.  In addition to the detrimental reliance establishing the existence of the oral contract, your boyfriend working on the owner's equipment as part of the agreement would also provide additional evidence of an existing contract because a bargained for exchange of services (working on the equipment in exchange for having the mobile home on the property)  is an essential element of a contract.  The fact that were several witnesses to the verbal agreement also provides you with additional evidence of an existing contract.

Your damages (the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit) would be the cost of moving.

An alternative remedy instead of seeking damages would be to sue the owner and seek specific performance of the contract.  Specific performance would be a court's decision ordering the owner to perform his obligations under the contract by allowing your mobile home to remain on the property.  This might be preferable to the inconvenience of moving your mobile home to another location.


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