This is in California I read another one that said California is an outlier. and to be clear, my intent is NOT to pursue legal action I'm merely trying to establish there was a contract and there was a breach of contract more for my own interest than anything.

We were planning on moving from one city to another and as part of that were going to rent a 1 bedroom apartment for 2 people. Family members contacted us and indicated they were coming home to the city we were moving to, had nowhere to come home to, and wondered if they could live with us when they got home. We discussed it several times by facetime and Facebook messenger. It was agreed that instead of an apartment we would rent a house so that when they got home, there was room for them. We'd all live in the house together, they'd start paying rent as soon as they got settled, found jobs etc, and then at some point in the future, probably after the lease expired, we'd go our separate ways.

We started renting the house in Sep 2017, they got delayed and didn't get home until Jan. We were perfectly fine with that we actually moved early for our own reasons. They lived with us for 2 months, didn't pay a penny of rent, and you guessed it they bailed on us, with no notice, and got their own apartment. While I assume the reason they left is irrelevant, we don't know, they didn't give us a reason, in fact there has been no communication in the 2 months since they left. 2 weeks prior to them leaving they asked me to give them a list of the costs of the house as they were about to start working(one of them) and be able to contribute and they wanted to get an idea what it cost. So I typed out on a computer the numbers and gave it to them. That's the only written confirmation beyond the messages on FB messenger, of an agreement. The only other "proof" that I can come up with is that they did change of address forms and still have mail coming to the house which proves they fully intended to move in and live there.

Again I have no intent of actually filing, they're family and I'm chalking it up to a lesson learned(for us, clearly not them) but my take is there was a clear contract, they breached it, and under the law they're legally bound to be paying us "part" of the rent, and even though they left, they continue to be bound to pay until the lease expires, in Sept 2018.

Am I correct or incorrect that there was a contract and it was breached?

  • Make this question less specific to your own experience as questions asking for specific legal advice are considered off-topic on this Stack.
    – A.fm.
    May 23, 2018 at 18:47

1 Answer 1


There was probably no contract.

You describe this as an arrangement within a family - such arrangements carry a rebuttable assumption that they do not intend to create legal relations i.e. they are not a contract. To overcome the assumption you need evidence that both parties intend to contract: a written document saying “contract” would be favorite.

Notwithstanding, even if there was such an intention, what you have is an “agreement to agree”, not a contract. A contract comes into existence when all the essential terms are agreed: “how much?” is an essential term.

  • Thank you and I guess there was never a set amount stated it was always pay some rent, not pay X. We never knew how much they would be able to afford so we left it open ended.
    – rangiwai2
    May 6, 2018 at 14:58

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