A dispute arose between me and my ex-landlord. Before any litigation, I told him the things I expected that he wasn't doing. His response was to agree to do them, provided I would agree to various unenforceable things. Would such a contract have any effects? If the things he agreed to were enforceable but mine weren't, would he still have to do them even if I didn't?

For example, the landlord rented out a storage area to an extra person. He said he would somehow share the money to lower others costs, but the details were never clear and weren't in writing. When he did not share the money, I reminded him he had agreed to. His response was "I will share it if you agree not to undermine my leadership or complain" (these were literally the words he used). If I agreed to these terms what would happen? I give this example assuming undermining leadership isn't legally enforceable. Now that litigation has started, can I present this as evidence of some kind?

  • What does your lawyer say? (My initial reaction is that a promise not to undermine his leadership is certainly valid consideration, how a court would go about enforcing such a contract is a different question. They would probably just grant monetary damages, because it is difficult to see how injunctive relief would help.) Aug 9, 2019 at 12:51

2 Answers 2


A promise that a court would not enforce by injunction can still be valid consideration and be part of a valid contract. Failure to carry out such obligations would lead to some measure of money damages, most likely.

On the other hand, provisions specifically barred by law, or against public policy, such as a promise to commit a crime, are void from the start, and form no part of a valid contract. Such provisions may be treated by a court as if they had just been left out, or if they were essential to the contract, or formed the sole consideration, the whole contract might be considered void.

If a term is too vague for a court to determine if it has been violated or not, the court may try to clarify it, or may just ignore it. Just what it would mean for a tenant to "undermine the leadership" of a landlord is not clear to me, at least. That might well be held to be "too vague". As to "not complain" it may be that a tenant has a legal right to make official complaints, which cannot be waived by contract. Or it may not, depending on the local laws.


If I agreed to these terms what would happen?

They have no effect on the rest of the contract. The "anti-undermine" and "anti-complain" clauses are unenforceable as too vague and oppressive (somewhat related to the notion of duress), respectively.

More important is to bear in mind that the actual consideration in your matter is the renting or ceding of your entitlement to the use of that storage space. You paid for a space that you gave up under the landlord's promise of a share of income he would earn from third-parties who rent it.

Furthermore, failure to reimburse you the portion pertaining to the storage space is tantamount to double renting the same space. Statutory law typically prohibits double renting, and your landlord's situation might bring him within scope of those landlord-tenant statutes.

can I present this as evidence of some kind?

That is unclear for someone who is neither familiar with Canadian procedural law nor with the evidence you have in this regard (for instance, you mention that the agreement is not in writing).

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