What constitutes a binding lease?

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What constitutes a binding lease?

We moved from MD to TX in July. We leased a home and the home was disgusting when we got into it. The property mgmt co. did not do their job. They were fired by the owners of the property the same month. We were asked by the owners to send our rent to them. We in turn asked for a new lease for both of our protection, but and as of today, we have not received one. The one we have is from the property management company and only named the owners as the landlord, but not us the tenants. What does this mean as far as the lease being legally binding?

Asked on November 11, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

There are several different issues here:

1) A binding lease--or any contract--must identify the parties involved. It's one thing for there to be a sllight "flaw" in the identification--spelling a name wrong; using a shorter version of a longer name; etc.--but as long as the parties are still clearly identifiable, the contract or lease is valid. A contract or lease that does not even name or identify a party at all is not legally binding, though it may be possible to address that problem by hand writing in the parties name and initialing all occurences of it.

2) You don't want to be in default of rent, but you also want to make sure that you pay it to the correct party. You should be very forward or aggressive (in a polite and professional way, of course) in contacting the property owner in writing, in ways you can prove delivery, and letting them know you have the rent, want to pay the rent, but want to confirm who to pay it to and get a lease to that effect. You want to create a paper trail that shows that if the rent does not reach the correct party for any reason, it's not due to your fault--you were doing everything reasonable expected of you.

3) You obviously don't want to sign a contract committing you to pay the wrong party; see above.

4) If the premises was not clean or hygenic when you moved in, it may have violated the implied warranty of habitability. You may have grounds for one or more of a) seeking a court order to get the landlord to clean matters up (if it hasn't been already); b) seeking monetary damages or compensation; c) seeking the ability, if necessary, to pay for clean up and repair yourself, then deduct from the rent; or d) rescind the lease. If interested in considering or pursuing any of  these, you should speak with a landlord-tenant attorney to evaluate your options.

 


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