validity of lease agreement moved my daughter into an apartment in May,…

validity of lease agreement
moved my daughter into an apartment in May, submitted requested application to landlord. apt already occupied by another tenant. Now, the other girl wants my daughter to move out, and the landlord states lease not valid because he never signed it. Have paid rent twice since May. what are my rights? Can he evict her, or does he have to honor the lease agreement?

2 thoughts on “validity of lease agreement moved my daughter into an apartment in May,…

  1. Re: validity of lease agreement
    The legalities aside, why would you wish your daughter to remain in a rental unit shared by another person who supposedly doesn’t want her there and where the landlord is disputing the validity of her lease?

    Michael E. Hendrickson
    Attorney & Counsellor at Law
    211 North Union Street Suite 100
    Alexandria, 22314

  2. Re: validity of lease agreement
    This is a close call. First, contracts do not have
    to be in writing, they can be verbal. (However it
    can be very hard to prove that the verbal contract
    existed, practically, but it is still a good contract.)

    It is also possible to accept a written or verbal
    contract through ACTIONS instead of by signing. For example, if I offer you $100 to take a package to Richmond as an emergency (I’m near Fairfax),
    and you — SAYING NOTHING — take the package out
    of my hand, get in your car, and race down the
    road, we have a contract. I would be obligated to
    pay you and you would be obligated to deliver it
    (not stop at King’s Dominion instead.)

    In your case, if the landlord presents a lease,
    your daughter signs it and returns it, and then
    the landlord hands her the keys (or something
    similar), this would be the same as agreeing, the
    same as if the landlord’s signature was on the
    contract. So far I would give a strong yes that
    the landlord is bound by the lease.

    However, real estate is a special case. While you
    can have a verbal contract for most things, real
    estate is an exception. Normally this involves
    the SALE of real estate, not a lease, and this
    rule barely applies at all to rentals. But
    also residential leases are governed by the
    Virginia Landlord Tenant Act, and I don’t know
    right now what that Act says without doing some
    legal research on this special, unusual question.

    However, to satisfy the rule for a written
    contract it is NOT necessary for the entire
    contract to be in writing. Most lawyers and many
    judges fail to appreciate this, and will tell you
    the wrong thing. But Virginia precedents are
    clear (if widely ignored). There must be written
    EVIDENCE of the contract. The contract itself
    need not be in writing. There must be written
    documentation proving that there was a contract.

    Often this requires the signature of the person
    to be charged, but where the landlord has its own
    lease on its own letterhead, this MIGHT be enough.

    Here, the landlord prepared the lease, obviously,
    and handed it to the tenant to be signed. The
    landlord then TREATED the lease as being ACCEPTED
    by in fact letting your daughter move in.

    There is another exception to the exception.
    When the owner of real estate unambiguosly ACTS as if there is a contract, whether there is a written contract or not, or any written evidence or not, then the verbal contract will be enforced.

    Here, the landlord TREATED the lease as being in
    force, through actions on both sides, which the
    landlord knew about (allowing your daughter to
    actually move in, indicating that the landlord
    thought the lease was valid).

    Therefore, I think that the lease is enforceable,
    but it may require some legal wrangling to get there.

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

Comments are closed.