How to get a name removed from lease where signer is not a tenant?

How to get a name removed from lease where signer is not a tenant?
My fiance got himself in a bad situation trying to help a couple he knows rent a house. He spoke with a Landlord he was acquainted with on their behalf. The Landlord verbally agreed to rent the house on a month to month basis and they moved in. Three weeks later my fiance visits and they are surprised by the Landlord with a Lease to sign. The Landlord threatens eviction if all 3 parties do not sign. He knew my fiance was not a Tenant, but insisted he sign because he knew him and not the new Tenants. My intimidated fiance signs to avoid his friends’ eviction. No one is provided a copy of the lease. Now the Landlord constantly harasses them all to collect his rent even before it’s due. Is it legal to surprise Tenants with a lease 3 weeks after moving in? What can my fiance do to get his name removed and avoid further liability? Is it legal to force someone to sign a lease knowing one signer was not to be a Tenant, and then not provide anyone with a copy of it? Do they have grounds for a harassment/fraud lawsuit against the Landlord? Please advise about this rental nightmare. Thank you.

One thought on “How to get a name removed from lease where signer is not a tenant?

  1. Re: How to get a name removed from lease where signer is not a tenant?
    Well, this is a complicated mess. Any time you
    are asked to sign a contract, it is a very
    serious matter. Generally speaking, I would say
    that in 99% of the cases if you have signed the
    lease, you are responsible for the lease.

    Here, however, you have quite a strange and
    unusual situation.

    In order for a contract (or lease) to be binding
    there must be a mutual exchange of promises,
    what the law calls “consideration.” It means
    that a contract is a two-way street, not a one-
    way promise from only one side to the other.

    Here, if your fiance is not living in the property, and the landlord knew it (which he will
    probably deny), then your finace is getting
    nothing from the deal. Therefore, the lease is
    not enforceable with respect to your fiance.

    However, it is possible for the “consideration”
    (two way street) to be that your fiance wants
    the landlord to extend credit to the tenants.
    So the promise CAN be BINDING if the purpose is
    to help the tenants move in.

    Trouble is… The tenants had ALREADY moved in.
    The landlord had already agreed. Therefore, it
    cannot be said that your fiance signed and made
    a promise to allow the tenants to rent the
    property. They were already renting the property.

    It could also be said that your finance signed
    to promise to pay to stop an eviction. However,
    for a month to month lease, ASSUMING they paid
    the full amount due up until then, they could
    NOT be in default after only 3 weeks. So the
    landlord had no legal right to evict the tenants.
    THerefore, again, your fiance’s promise and
    signature means nothing because it was not in
    exchange for anything.

    Trouble is, you would have to either wait to be
    sued and then win in court, or else possibly
    file a “declaratory judgment” action to ask the
    court to determine whether or not your fiance
    actually has any responsibility under the lease.
    That would take a long time in court.

    As to your other questions, people can enter into
    any agreement they want. So if someone presents
    you with a contract, surprise or not, the law
    will allow you to sign it. You are supposed to
    say no until you are sure it is the right thing
    to do.

    Obviously, however, a landlord cannot demand
    rent BEFORE it is due.

    One question is whether the landlord rents
    10 or more residences so as to be covered by
    the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act.

    Jonathon Moseley
    Office of Jonathon Moseley
    1818 Library Street, Suite 500
    Reston, VA 20190

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