What should we as tenants do if there is a mistake in the lease signed?

UPDATED: May 23, 2012

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What should we as tenants do if there is a mistake in the lease signed?

We signed a lease on an apartment. It says 12 month, but there was a calculation mistake and the dates add up to 13 months. The landlord is not ready to talk about the mistake on paper and wants us to vacate after 13 months but we have already signed another lease and need to move after 12 months. The landlord has threatened that if we leave then, it would be “abandoning” and they will take legal action. What should we do in such a case?

Asked on May 23, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If there is an ambiguity in the lease--or in any contract--then a court would, if there is litigation, try to determine the intention of the parties. If the lease says "12 months," and given that 12 month/1 year leases are probably the most common, it is very likely that notwithstanding what the dates add up to, that a court would conclude that this is a 12 month lease and only enforce it as a 12 month lease.

If you move out after 12 months, one of the following will happen:

1) Landlord does nothing--you don't need to do anything.

2) Landlord takes a month rent out of your security deposit, to pay for that 13th month; you would have the option of suing the landlord to recover it (including in small claims court, where you could act as your own attorney), in which case you'd look to prove, as above, that it was a 12-month lease.

3) Landlord sues you for the 13th month, and you'd defend on the basis that it was actually a 12-month lease.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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