Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Help Me Howard: Altering Lease
What does it mean to you when you sign a lease? You have a deal right, so what happens if a few months into the lease, the landlord says, I am changing some things? Can he do that? It's a question one renter had for Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Brain twisters can leave some people frazzled, but hand Rick Ruiz a rubix cube and you'll make him smile.
Rick Ruiz: "Just for the challenge. Keeps your brain in shape."
Piecing together a puzzle satisfies him, but a simple note on his door mystified him.
Rick Ruiz: "That they were going to start charging for water and cable."
Rick was puzzled because he had signed a lease two months earlier that said his water and cable were included in the rent, in other words free.
Rick Ruiz: I'm paying rent, you say something is included and then two months later you take it away."
But Rick's landlord believes he can start charging for cable and water because of this clause in the lease that says, 'The landlord may change or modify the method by which utilities are furnished to the premises and or billed to the resident.'
rick doesn't like that.
Rick Ruiz: "I'm not trying to put a woe me story, it's really a moral issue for me."
A moral issue, a legal issue leading to a question.
Rick Ruiz: "Sometimes the law is different from what's morally right, but I'm hoping in this case the law is in my favor. I want to know if they are legally allowed to go back on their agreement with a tenant."
Well Howard, can a landlord or a tenant change the terms of a lease in the middle of a lease.
Howard Finkelstein: "Normally you can't change a lease, but in this lease their is a clause that seems to allow it, however it's an ambiguous clause and the courts will favor the tenant because the clause was written by the landlord. My opinion they cannot charge Rick for the cable and water."
When we talked to the attorney for the apartment complex he agreed that the clause in the contract was ambiguous, but disagreed with Howard's interpretation. He is convinced they can change the lease and require renters to pay for cable and water.
However, they wanted to be nice. When we asked them to release Rick from his lease they agreed. He can now get out of his lease and move out with no penalties and if you are about to sign a lease, don't forget one thing.
Howard Finkelstein: "Before you sign a lease remember you can make changes, write them into the lease and those changes are part of contract as long as both sides initial the changes and sign the lease."
Rick's lease puzzle is solved and now he is piecing together his next step, where will he live.
Rick Ruiz: "I already found a few places, pretty good bargains, better than what I have now. It worked out, Help Me Howard gets the job done."
While this lease had a confusing clause, most are pretty clear, but if there is something in the lease you don't understand, ask them to explain it in writing. Both sides initial it and make it part of the lease. That way there wont be any confusion or misunderstandings was I clear.
Contracted troubles that seem to own you? Ready to move them out? Sign up with us. We will at lease try to help, clause that's what we do.
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