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I signed a lease that says that the first day of the lease is Mid July. Recently, we were given the option to move in earlier, so the landlord crossed out the date on the contract and wrote the new date in the margins. The landlord said that it's perfectly legal, and we won't need to resign another contract.

Is that indeed legal? If that is legally enforceable, what is stopping someone from scribbling other clauses in the contract that we didn't agree to?

In the interest of staying protected, should I request that the landlord void the previous contract and send us a new one?

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The issue is not enforceability per se, it is the problem of proving what you agreed to. If the landlord adds conditions that are against your interest, he would need to show that you agreed to those conditions: if you add conditions against his interest, you'd have to likewise prove agreement. Since you both have copies of the agreement, it's a matter of comparison to see if the documents are the same. Rather than voiding the earlier agreement and rewriting everything, the change can be initialed. If you were to cross out the rent and insert a lower figure, you would need proof that he agreed to this (hence, his initials on your copy). In your case, the change is apparently in your interest rather than his, so there's no realistic way that this could become an issue (that I can think of: maybe there's a clause that has to do with the move-in date and moving in early actually works against your interest, in which case he would need to prove that you agreed. The fact of moving in early is sufficient proof of agreement).

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I think it is legal as long as you don't disagree with it. If you want to move in three days earlier, and the landlord changes the date three days back, nobody is going to complain. You get the place three days earlier, the landlord gets three days more rent, everyone is happy. The landlord could send you a new copy, but it wouldn't achieve much.

If the landlord "increased" the monthly rent by adding a digit, you would obviously not agree, and it wouldn't be enforcable. If you wrote "leaseholder is allowed to keep a cat", and the landlord doesn't agree, it wouldn't be enforceable. If the landlord wrote it, then I'd assume that he agrees, so you could keep a cat.

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