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In September my landlord fell on some hard times with his health that required him to have surgery. He asked for my October rent two weeks early and in exchange he would not require me to pay December rent.

On November 17th he contacts me saying he'll need my December rent after all since he can't afford not to charge me.

I already spent that money on a plane ticket to visit family over the holidays. Is he allowed to request payment after all?

I am in New Mexico, USA

  • Do you have anything in writing? If not, you might have a hard time proving anything, should it come to that. – phoog Nov 29 '16 at 18:33
  • I have a text conversation between us. – efstudent Nov 29 '16 at 18:33
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    Is the lease a month to month lease. If so, you may avoid a month of rent at the cost of having to move in a month. If the lease is long enough for your purposes, however, asserting yourself seems to be within your rights and the early payment of the October rent is good consideration for the wavier of Decembers (although it may constitute usury under NM law as you are basically getting a full months rent for a two week loan of the same amount. – ohwilleke Nov 29 '16 at 18:43
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You have an agreement, which if followed means that you don't have to pay December rent.

  • I was thinking about repsonding: "I regret to hear about your situation but I have the understanding that we had an agreement that if I paid October rent early I would not be required to pay December rent." – efstudent Nov 29 '16 at 18:40
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    @efstudent - I might do something similar, except that I would never concede ambiguity. E.g., I wouldn't say, "I have the understanding that we had an agreement that...;" but rather, "We agreed that...." – feetwet Nov 29 '16 at 19:08
  • Right, don't backpedal and devalue of your mother of the agreement – user6726 Nov 29 '16 at 19:37
  • UPDATE: I sent him the message above with your modification and all his response was "ok." Does this mean he agrees that I shouldn't pay? What does this mean? – efstudent Nov 29 '16 at 20:10
  • "OK" must mean "yes, I agree." Wait and see if he asks for Dec. rent again before January. – BlueDogRanch Nov 29 '16 at 20:30
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On the face of it, the agreement to pay the October rent early in return for waiving the December rent appears to be a legally binding contract to vary your existing contract. See What is a contract and what is required for them to be valid? There is consideration on both sides and it is irrelevant if anyone else considers it "fair": the two of you did at the time and that is all that matters.

Even if real estate contracts in NM are required to be in writing then the text messages should cover this.

The legal position is that you do not have to pay the December rent. The practical position is how this will affect your relationship because it is equally legal for the landlord to evict you at the end of the lease or if you are in breach of any term of the lease.

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