If we entered into a lease-to-own agreement for a condo and the landlord is now unwilling to sell, can we get our option fee back?

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If we entered into a lease-to-own agreement for a condo and the landlord is now unwilling to sell, can we get our option fee back?

In 2008 we entered into a lease to own agreement for a condo with our landlord. After 18 months we tried to exercise our option to buy but he refused and asked us to lease for another 18 months. In 2 months our lease expires again. Last month I sent them a letter but they ignored it. We were given legal advice to give 30 days and vacate, and sue him via small claims because the contract was drafted without a purchase price, dates for the option to buy, or details on how to exercise our option, making the agreement invalid. Is there a law that allows for getting our option fee back?

Asked on March 17, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

So someone read the agreement for you and gave you the advice you have written here?  Did they mention what the agreement states as to the option money?  It is possible that a portion of the agreement - that portion dealing with the purchase - can be invalidated but the rest of the lease remains in effect.  Some contracts have that type of provision in them and generally the law allows that interpretation. So look at the portion that deals with it as a lease - not a purchase - and if it says give the 30 days notice before the end of the term do so, in writing, and by certified mail.  Now, if that potion of the contract as to the purchase is rendered invalid then all the provisions dealing with it are also invalid. But I really wish that I could read it for you here and tell you for sure about the option fee.  I would definitely sue them for the money back given what you have written.  Good luck.


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