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So I have had a short term lease (Dec-August) that costs me $X

2 months ago, I was offered, and accepted (signed a new lease), to renew the lease for a full year for the same price. However I was told few days ago that the property manager has made a mistake and that they shouldn't have renewed it because the owner needs it from August till December.

I demanded compensation because all rentals around me cost higher, and because good deals are now off market (university area). However, the Leasing office is not willing to pay anything, and they are arguing that this is because I shouldn't have been offered this lease in the first place, and that the reason why my lease is actually just $X is that it is a short term lease. So the fact that I am going to pay $200+X is just because $X is too low for a comparable apartment.

Does their argument make any sense? is there a chance that I would lose the case if I brought it to court?

  • Was the person who offered the contract to you the agent? Who offered the contract? – Putvi Apr 24 at 21:10
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    the contract is valid, it was signed by the property manager – user534055 Apr 24 at 23:41
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In general, a properly signed lease is binding. But there are exceptions, and they vary depending on the jurisdiction: country, state/province, and even city or county in many places.

You mention a claim that the property should not be leased "because the owner needs it". In some jurisdictions, there is a special exception if the owner personally, or a member of the owner's immediate family, intended to live in the property. It is not clear form the question if such an exception would apply.

it might well be that a person in the position described in the question has a valid and enforceable lease, and could simply remain in the property, paying rent, and the owner would have no valid grounds for eviction. But this kind of case will depend on the exact wording of the rental agreement, and on the exact provisions of the applicable laws, which vary widely depending on the location of the property.

A person in this kind of situation would b wise to consult a local lawyer who will know local property law, and how the provisions of the agreement and other claims will be treated by local courts. There may also be local tenant assistance organizations, run by the government or by non-profit groups, who will know local law and can assist in such cases. A general answer cannot be gotten from a forum such as this which an individual should rely upon in such a case, particularly when the question does not even state what country, let alone what specific locality, is involved.

  • I don't think the part about the owner using it applies when you signed a contract. – Putvi Apr 26 at 17:34
  • @Putvi On double checking, the owner needing to use the dwelling is, in some jurisdictions, a valid reason to break a lease when the property has just been sold. I had forgotten that latter part, so it soesn't seem that it applies here. It came up in an SE answer some months ago. – David Siegel Apr 26 at 21:38
  • There are at least two jurisdictions where it doesn't matter that you "signed a contract", lease agreements are terminable on notice for the use of the owner or their family, regardless of whether or when ownership has changed. However, those jurisdictions also force minimum standards on all tenancies which are assumed unless improved by agreement. – Nij Nov 24 at 7:28
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Does their argument make any sense?

No. First, the [property manager's] offer & signature reflects that the renewal or extension meets the contract law requirement of being entered by the landlord knowingly and willfully.

Second, the landlord's allegation that "the reason why my lease is actually just $X is that it is a short term lease" is not credible. It is inconsistent with the common practice that shorter leases are proportionally more expensive than a full lease. That common practice is devised to compensate for the heightened overhead and risk a landlord incurs by searching for, vetting, and setting up new tenants as well as for the maintenance associated to tenants' turnover.

Third, if the August-December period is part of a lease shorter than yours, the rate of that other lease is relevant. That is because a rate which is materially higher than $X (again, proportional to the duration of the lease) would contradict the landlord's allegation that your lease is only $X on grounds that "it is a short term lease". Likewise, extending/renewing the lease at the same price is consistent with the landlord's allegation about short term leases.

Fourth, the Restatement (Second) of Contracts, which is frequently applied in the jurisdictions of the U.S., addresses at § 153 the issue of when a mistake of one party makes a contract voidable. The landlord can hardly prove that "[you] had reason to know of the mistake or [your] fault caused the mistake", Restatement at § 153(b). It was not your fault that the landlord offered/signed the renewal you accepted. Nor can it be said that you "knew" the offer of renewal was a mistake, since a landlord typically is interested in retaining its tenants.

Based on the Restatement § 158, you might be entitled to some arrangement or compensation in accordance with your next best alternative.

is there a chance that I would lose the case if I brought it to court?

Yes, but that depends on:

  1. judicial incompetence that has nothing to do with a true application of the law (see this judge's blatancy toward favoring "anybody who's powerful" and some ramifications of that mentality), or
  2. particularities of the situation which are not palpable in your question and which might trigger some narrow legislative provision.
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    The second point about commercial terms is not absolute (My market has some seasonality - it's best for me to offer a full year starting July thru labor day. If I am vacant in the spring I'd happily cut a discount for a short term that ends to be ready for a new school year) especially as the OP is extending an existing lease - OP case actually eliminates the vacancy and turnover consideration. Unless you have a law where rental rates must be consistent short and long term, it's just asserted opinion, and the opposite case is plausible. – user662852 Apr 26 at 11:39
  • @user662852 You make a good point about seasonality. But the OP was offered "to renew the lease for a full year" (two months ago), not just "for the rest of xyz period". Thus, that would rule out seasonality --at least according to the OP's description-- unless the landlord proves its market seasonality truly is different. I am not purporting that rental rates must be consistent short & long term or that the opposite scenario is implausible. Instead, my point is that the landlord's response is inconsistent with [reasoned] common practices and possibly also with its Aug-Dec rate. – Iñaki Viggers Apr 26 at 12:39
  • @user662852 well we live in a college town, so maybe that makes a difference as to the length of the lease. But my question is, regardless of the amount that the rental should have been priced at, I had already signed a contract for an amount that is reasonable to find (just a bit below market price given the quality of the rental), and now the agent wants to break the contract. shouldn't they pay all damages that I enquire? The landlord usually uses the apartment for the football season ( thats what the agent says) – user534055 Apr 27 at 2:15

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