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  1. #1
    grewupdown Guest

    Can a landlord change the terms of a lease after it is signed?

    What is the name of your state? What is the name of your state? California

    We received notice that our rent was going to increase when we signed the next lease, but when we went in to sign the lease, the rent was still the same. They asked if everything was okay on the lease and we did not say anything about the amount of the rent and signed the lease. Now, two months later, we received a call saying that the rent was wrong on the lease and they need us to come in and sign a new one. Can they do that? Do we have to sign the new lease?
  2. #2
    yoyoma Guest
    Did you recieve the first notice in writing?

    Now this presents a problem....do you want to stay there?

    If not then stick to the terms of the signed lease, and they wont offer you a renewal.
  3. #3
    CA. Landlady Guest
    It's resumptive that they will not renew the lease next year. Also, in CA. there are areas where the landlord must have certain reasons why they do not intent to renew most specially in SF.
  4. #4
    Cvillecpm is offline Senior Member
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    Depending on the amount of the increase - over 10% they have to give you 60 days notice - and if you want to remain at the property, offer to split the differenct in the increase over the length of the term of your lease renewal.
  5. #5
    eberha14 Guest
    The new lease you signed is a binding contract. After a contract has been signed, no changes can be made without agreement by both parties. This means the landlord cannot raise the rent or force you to sign a new lease. The only exception to this would be if there is a provision in the lease allowing for rent increases.

    People who do business (including management companies and landlords) are held to high standards when it comes to 'mistakes' in contracts. This means the landlord is legally obligated to rent the apartment to you at the lower rate that both sides agreed to in the renewal lease, even if he meant to change the rental rate and forgot to do so.
  6. #6
    CA. Landlady Guest
    Weather it's binding or not is a matter of state law. There may be a problem for the lessee. There was a mistake and the lessee knew it. If it were to go before a judge the landlord could be awarded the increase.

    I know it sounds goofy but it does happen. Typically management will not take it that far, they many times will just chalk it up as a learning experience but you never know.
    Last edited by CA. Landlady; 06-15-2002 at 03:04 PM.
  7. #7
    eberha14 Guest
    Cal.Civ.Code 1625:
    The execution of a contract in writing, whether the law requires it to be written or not, supersedes all the negotiations or stipulations concerning its matter which preceded or accompanied the execution of the instrument.
    Last edited by eberha14; 06-15-2002 at 03:22 PM.
  8. #8
    CA. Landlady Guest
    Yes, that may be current civil code. However, there's a little thing called a mutual mistake of fact. It's a good question for you to ask an attorney about.
    Last edited by CA. Landlady; 06-16-2002 at 12:20 AM.
  9. #9
    eberha14 Guest
    (As always, I reserve the right to change my opinion upon learning more of the facts.)

    In order for this to be a 'mutual mistake of fact' both parties must have had the mistaken belief that they had agreed to something in the lease which in actuality is not in accord with the plain language of the lease. This is not the case.

    The question arises as to what type of 'mistake' this really is. A mistake of fact in contract law is of the type described above: a belief by one or both parties that they were agreeing to something different than what the plain language of the lease shows.

    Then there is the other type of mistake which has no legal basis for contract rescission: where one party signs a contract and afterwards professes that he had 'intended' to negotiate something differently, or that he forgot to change something even though he meant to. The only time this can have legal basis is if the party arguing it was 'non compos mentis' at the time of signing.

    The notice of the rent increase only presents the landlord's 'intent' to raise the rent. Moreover, it is superseded by the execution of the written contract. Now, the lessee didn't state whether the notice was verbal or written. If it is verbal, then it would also fall under what's known as the "parol evidence rule" (see below).

    If this argument went to court, the landlord's attorney's only option would be to argue what's called a 'unilateral mistake.'
    A unilateral mistake, in contrast to a mutual mistake, is a mistake where only one party has the mistaken belief.

    Architects & Contractors Estimating Service, Inc. v. Smith (164 Cal. App. 3d 1001; 1985):
    "A mistake of fact[...] consists of: "1. An unconscious ignorance or forgetfulness of a fact past or present, material to the contract; or, 2. Belief in the present existence of a thing material to the contract, which does not exist, or in the past existence of such a thing, which has not existed." ( 1577.) A mistake need not be mutual. Unilateral mistake is ground for relief where the mistake is due to the fault of the other party or the other party knows or has reason to know of the mistake."

    If the landlord wanted to argue that he believed in good faith that the lease stated something it did not, he would have a very difficult time. Keep in mind that most of the people who want out of a contract try this, and very few succeed.

    The landlord would have to:
    1) Convince the court that he not only intended to change the rental rate, but in actuality thought he really did change the numbers on the written lease. (Fat chance!)

    2) As I noted above, if the notice given for the rent increase was parol, it would fall under the "parol evidence rule". The parol evidence rule states that if there is a signed contract that the terms of the contract cannot be altered by any evidence of previous oral notices/intent/agreement which purport to change, explain, or contradict the contract. Such evidence to contradict the terms of the lease contract would not even be admissable.

    3) As I mentioned in a previous posting, experienced businessmen and management companies are held to high standards when it comes to negotiating contracts. For example, I once was in the courtroom when a tenant sued his landlord for failing to pay for cable tv. The lease read "lessor will pay for cable". The landlord argued it was a mistake. It probably was, and the landlord produced published advertisements which showed which of their complexes they paid cable for and which they did not. The tenant did not live in one of the complexes where tenants received free cable. The court decided in favour of the tenant, reason being that management companies are held to higher standards.

    4) Cal.Civ.Code 1625:
    The execution of a contract in writing, whether the law requires it to be written or not, supersedes all the negotiations or stipulations concerning its matter which preceded or accompanied the execution of the instrument.
    Last edited by eberha14; 06-15-2002 at 06:14 PM.
  10. #10
    yoyoma Guest
    I mean that is all well and good, the landlord must uphold the contract.

    But we are talking about real life here, the landlord will be pisssed off and will not offer a renewal lease.

    So it goes back to my original answer...do you want to move when the lease is up? then only pay the rent you signed for in the lease.
  11. #11
    CA. Landlady Guest
    eberha.

    You're correct. I stand corrected and meant it's a mistake of a material fact.

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