When I received my lease it stated $800 per month for a term rent of $10,800. I knew this was a mistake because it was stated in the beginning that rent was $900 per moth. When I corrected the property manager she sent the lease back for $800 per month and $900 per term. I signed and she signed the new document. My resident portal now says I owe $900. Can I hold her to the $800 per month?

1 Answer 1


Can I hold her to the $800 per month?

This is somewhat unpredictable from a purely legal standpoint. I assume that term means year, since that is what would lead to the rate discrepancies.

The discrepancy of rates $800 per month versus $10,800 in one installment triggers the doctrine of contra proferentem, thereby favoring your position that the rent agreed upon is $800 per month.

Additionally, it is noteworthy that despite/upon your notification the property manager sent a "corrected" version preserving the rate of $800/month. That affords to you the argument that the manager/landlord bore the risk of mistake in the sense of Restatement (Second) of Contracts at § 154.

On the other hand, the landlord is not necessarily barred from "reformation" of the lease even though the mistake clearly was her fault. See Restatement at § 157, and the principle of "avoid[ing] injustice" (Restatement at § 158(2)). From this standpoint, the matter would boil down to ascertaining the parties' intent at the time of formation of contract, and your ability to prove that the $800/month constituted a material inducement to you to enter the lease. That being said, a clause akin to "[t]his agreement supersedes and overrides any prior or contemporary agreement" would weaken the landlord's position.

By way of comparison, if you were sticking to the option of "$900 per term" as offered in the "corrected" version of the lease, the landlord's chances to prevail would be significantly higher. That is because an argument of unconscionable exchange is likelier to outweigh the doctrine of contra proferentem regarding the discrepancy in the "corrected" lease.

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