Is My Lease Contract Void or Voidable?

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Latest post 12-29-2011 2:14 PM by adjuster jack. 13 replies.
  • 12-28-2011 3:00 PM

    • ccrolley
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    Is My Lease Contract Void or Voidable?

    At the bottom of my original, signed lease contract, there's a line added that says "Contract void if not used by person X."  My landlord (an individual) isn't "person X," and neither am I.  "Person X" is in no way party to our agreement.

    Question:  is my contract void or may it be legally voided by this sentence?

    I assume my landlord cribbed this from someone else's work, and to be honest part of the reason I wasn't too hesitant to sign for longer than I want was it sure looked like the thing was void pretty much from day one.

    I originally wanted to lease for 18 months, but the LL insisted on a 24 month lease.  I have a job now in a new town and would like to work out an amicable end to the lease, but if the landlord isn't reasonable I'd like to have a big club in my bag to whack him with - like, here's half of the rest of the contract and you're lucky to get that.

    He's been a decent enough sort, and I have no desire to stick it to him but I'd also rather not pay an additional 6 months lease for a place I'm not living.  We've always made our lease payments on time and everything else is as described in the contract.

    If it comes to it, and I hope it doesn't, I will seek local representation but I wanted to see if someone has the ability to provide me a feel for this either way.  Thanks very much in advance!

     

     

  • 12-28-2011 3:15 PM In reply to

    Re: Is My Lease Contract Void or Voidable?

    ccrolley:

    At the bottom of my original, signed lease contract, there's a line added that says "Contract void if not used by person X."  My landlord (an individual) isn't "person X," and neither am I.  "Person X" is in no way party to our agreement.

    Question:  is my contract void or may it be legally voided by this sentence?

    Probably not.

    But who, exactly, is person X in relation to your landlord?

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 12-28-2011 3:34 PM In reply to

    • ccrolley
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    Re: Is My Lease Contract Void or Voidable?

    Thanks for the reply. 

    "Person X" is just some guy he cribbed the agreement from, probably another landlord or associate, and "Person X" is not in any way a party to the contract.  It seems right and reasonable to me that just as other parts of the contract obligate us mutually, this one voids the mutual obligation.

  • 12-28-2011 4:00 PM In reply to

    Re: Is My Lease Contract Void or Voidable?

    ccrolley:
    It seems right and reasonable to me that just as other parts of the contract obligate us mutually, this one voids the mutual obligation.

    No, it doesn't.

    Courts don't necessarily void contracts if there is any easily correctible error, which this seems to be.

    You both agreed to the contract, you both put it in writing, you've both performed under the terms and conditions of the contract.

    A judge is likely to rule that the person X thing disappears and the rest of the contract is enforceable.

    If your landlord is such a nice guy I suggest you talk to him about buying your way out of the lease and seeing how much it will take that you both can live with.

    If that doesn't work then it's your choice if you want to breach the lease and experience the consequences.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 12-28-2011 10:27 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Is My Lease Contract Void or Voidable?

    Well if he crafted the lease and it contains some rather dumb but clear condition then he as drafting side could be in for a rude surprise as generally whats on the paper counts .



  • 12-28-2011 11:01 PM In reply to

    Re: Is My Lease Contract Void or Voidable?

    ccrolley:

    At the bottom of my original, signed lease contract, there's a line added that says "Contract void if not used by person X."  My landlord (an individual) isn't "person X," and neither am I.  "Person X" is in no way party to our agreement.

    Question:  is my contract void or may it be legally voided by this sentence?

    Almost certainly the answer is no. If the provision clearly didn't apply to your contract and was there simply due to a copying oversight, courts generally will simply say the unintended provision is ignored. You can't avoid your obligations under the contract by standing on a provision that neither party to the contract intended to be included. Here it would be obvious to the court the provision was not intended as it would have made the contract unworkable from the start.

  • 12-28-2011 11:04 PM In reply to

    Re: Is My Lease Contract Void or Voidable?

    Drew:
    Well if he crafted the lease and it contains some rather dumb but clear condition then he as drafting side could be in for a rude surprise as generally whats on the paper counts .

    Only in the case of ambiguity might it be construed against the drafter. If it's clear the provision was never meant to be there in the first place, the court will simply ignore it.

  • 12-28-2011 11:17 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Is My Lease Contract Void or Voidable?

    I agree as a layman ---but seems to me the LL would bear burden to show it was never meant to be there and or its doesn't create an ambiguity and until he prevails on said quest, its in --or at least from a barter standpoint its a point he may not want to test  and hence a more middle of the road  division /separation /end of lease could be reached by  OP's better bartering .....



  • 12-29-2011 12:19 AM In reply to

    Re: Is My Lease Contract Void or Voidable?

    Drew:

    I agree as a layman ---but seems to me the LL would bear burden to show it was never meant to be there and or its doesn't create an ambiguity and until he prevails on said quest, its in --or at least from a barter standpoint its a point he may not want to test  and hence a more middle of the road  division /separation /end of lease could be reached by  OP's better bartering .....

    The problem is that, if I correctly understand what kind of provision this is, it will be pretty apparent that this provision was never meant to be included and thus not hard for the landlord to prove. I don't see much chance the court tossing the whole agreement based on this.

  • 12-29-2011 12:21 AM In reply to

    Re: Is My Lease Contract Void or Voidable?

    Taxagent:

    The problem is that, if I correctly understand what kind of provision this is, it will be pretty apparent that this provision was never meant to be included and thus not hard for the landlord to prove. I don't see much chance the court tossing the whole agreement based on this.

    And I don't see the tenant having any negotiating power unless it's backed with cash.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 12-29-2011 11:44 AM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Is My Lease Contract Void or Voidable?

    I don't know what contract law says in KY as to breeching side--but odds are each side has a duty to seek to abate --LL may not be entitled to full rest of lease w/o (each--that means you as well) making a serious attempt to find a replacement tenant.

     

    Cash talks---go barter for a  WRITTEN release for cash



  • 12-29-2011 1:38 PM In reply to

    • ccrolley
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    Re: Is My Lease Contract Void or Voidable?

    Many thanks to you all for your replies.  It's always been my intention to be upfront and try to negotiate, and I'll pay the whole lease on an empty house if I have to.  More than anything I am looking for a bargaining chip, just in case the process gets adversarial - you never know, so it never hurts to be prepared for it.

    Here's the exact language from the contract, with the name redacted:

    "This contract is for use by REDACTED.  Use by any other party is illegal and voids the contract."

    (Where REDACTED is the name of the person from whom the LandLord presumably cribbed the contract.)

    This statement appears in different type at the bottom of each page, and the descending characters from the original signatures run across it.  It's not like it was buried in the language somewhere and could have been easily overlooked.  I noticed it at the time but didn't say anything - I don't even recall why, now.

    I suppose my disconnect with all of this is that a significant contract condition, clearly articulated in the document, being arbitrarily struck by the court.  That seems capricious and odd to me.  This isn't a misspelled name or a typo.  It's a clearly articulated statement and prominently placed statement. 

    I suppose if the court can divine intent, perhaps they could likewise divine that it was never my intent to sign a two year lease.  But I did.  Iit was never the landlord's intent to leave voiding language on the contract.  But he did.  Why should one be enforced and not the other?

  • 12-29-2011 2:12 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Is My Lease Contract Void or Voidable?

    Retired LLs view:

    I somewhat reluctantly agree with others that LL has decent odds to get the "void language" tossed IF he pursues it in court --but its not a 100% slam dunk especially if its repeated several times and his lawyer won't be free either. 

    The downside , at least as to barter,  is LL has but a M to M lease.

    Equally up for debate is the various duties to seek to abate if say you breech. .

    Personally , if you put 1 perhaps 3 tops months added cash rent on the table (adjusted for security/damages)  the business savy LL needs to consider same --I would---at least locally the LL better find a cure in 60 days --local judge leans tenant way--I don't know how your local winds blow  

    Cash is king.



  • 12-29-2011 2:14 PM In reply to

    Re: Is My Lease Contract Void or Voidable?

    ccrolley:
    I'll pay the whole lease on an empty house if I have to. 

    You won't have to. The KY landlord tenant statute requires the landlord to mitigate by re-renting as soon as reasonably possible (338.670). Depending on the rental market that could be a couple of weeks to a couple of months. If the landlord fails to mitigate and sues for more than the reasonable amount of rent, you get to raise lack of mitigation as a defense.

    ccrolley:
    More than anything I am looking for a bargaining chip

    You don't have any. Other than offering cash to buy your way out.

    ccrolley:

    Here's the exact language from the contract, with the name redacted:

    "This contract is for use by REDACTED.  Use by any other party is illegal and voids the contract."

    That condition has no more legal effect on the contract than a requirement that the signers wear green socks.

    ccrolley:
    I suppose my disconnect with all of this is that a significant contract condition, clearly articulated in the document, being arbitrarily struck by the court.  That seems capricious and odd to me.

    That's an emotional reaction because you are annoyed that the one thing you think might get you out of the lease isn't going to get you out of the lease. In other words, clutching at straws. It would be neither arbitrary nor capricious for a judge to strike that sentence and enforce the rest of the contract regardless of how clearly articulated or prominently placed it is.

    ccrolley:
    it was never my intent to sign a two year lease.  But I did.

    On the contrary, it WAS your intent to sign a two year contract because you DID sign a two year contract. Once you signed it, it became your intent.

    ccrolley:
    Iit was never the landlord's intent to leave voiding language on the contract.  But he did.  Why should one be enforced and not the other?

    Simple.

    One is an integral part of the contract and a major condition: two years.

    The other is an inadvertent error that has no effect on the other terms and conditions of the contract.

    That's what the difference is and that's what is likely to happen in court.

    However, whether or not you can successfully use that issue as leverage in your negotiations with the landlord depends on how dumb the landlord is. You can certainly try it and see how it goes.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
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