• The leasing contract bears the broker's name, under "broker", and not as a signatory.
  • Is there an agency law ground (or some other) to make the contract enforceable against the broker (given no communication between tenant and landlord) so that the case could be brought against the broker?
  • What case is the tenant seeking to bring, and why would the tenant want to bring it against the broker instead of against the landlord? – phoog Oct 13 '17 at 19:16
  • There's been alleged fraudulent representation by the broker and the landlord is also in a different state. So if not on the contract ground, what other causes of actions can tenant have against the broker? – Godwin Oct 13 '17 at 19:48
  • Who are the signatories? The tenant and who else? If the landlord is an absentee landlord, who signed on the landlords behalf? Is the lease one provided by (written by) the agent or the landlord? These are important facts since you are talking about contract law. – closetnoc Oct 14 '17 at 0:54
  • The landlord is a signatory and signed the document, but there were never any direct communication between the landlord and the tenant - always through the broker. Both the landlord's broker and the tenant's broker are listed on the standard lease form under "broker". No other individuals are on the contract. THe lease was provided by the agent. – Godwin Oct 14 '17 at 19:12

A disclosed agent is not liable in contract for acts conducted on behalf of the principle, unless the agent expressly agrees to be personally bound on the contract. But, a disclosed agent can be liable in tort for tortious acts that the agent personally participates in, even though the agent would not be vicariously liable for those act.

This means, in the vast majority of cases arising from written agreements, that the broker cannot be held liable for breach of contract.

Someone who is actually acting as an agent for another, but does not disclose that fact and appears to the other party to be acting on his own behalf, has the same liability as the principal.

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  • The agent alleged acted in a deceitful manner by doctoring photographic evidence in order to withhold security from the tenant. What would be a suitable claim from the tenant's POV against the broker or would it be incumbent on the landlord to cross claim against the broker? – Godwin Oct 14 '17 at 19:19
  • Doctoring photographic evidence cause be a direct fraud claim, but could also be used in connection with a contract claim. The fraud claim would lie against the broker. The contract claim would not. – ohwilleke Oct 14 '17 at 20:16

From the tenant’s POV the agent is the landlord: what the agent does is, at law, done by the landlord. Sue them both.

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  • I am a licensed and bonded landlord who has rented properties in multiple states. I have used broker agents before. It all depends upon the agreement between the landlord and agent. The agent is, most of the time, just an agent. The lease is between the lessor and lessee. However, sometimes the agent takes a larger role and provides services to include a lease written by the agents company. In these cases, the lease has to be read carefully. Who are the signatories? What are the responsibilities of the parties? The advice to sue both is poor without additional information. – closetnoc Oct 14 '17 at 1:00
  • @closetnoc no it isn’t - if one or the other party has a defense they can raise it. – Dale M Oct 14 '17 at 1:01
  • In some states the costs for a defense of an improper claim can be sued for. Have you ever been sued? It can cost 10k just to defend a claim before going to court. It is easy to file a claim without merit and damned difficult to defend especially at the state level. Your recommendation to file a claim without proper evaluation of liability is irresponsible. – closetnoc Oct 14 '17 at 1:08
  • Theres no recommendation to file claim. Hence the discussion here. And yes frivolous claims can lead to R11 sanctions. – Godwin Oct 14 '17 at 22:19

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