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Lease Forgery

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K

Krazx

Guest
Hey, I'm having a little bit of a legal mess with my current apartment complex. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

I live in central Florida, and have been at my current residence for almost 2 years. When we originally signed our lease, we were paying $670 a month for rent and had put in a $570 deposit.

One year later, we were required to renew our lease. The manager of the complex at the time came to our door and just handed us the bottom copy of a 6 page document and said "Everything is staying the same. Your rent will be the same. Just sign this and we will renew your lease."

Sounds great. My wife and I signed the one page she brought and went about our daily business.

One month later, the apartment complex notified us that we had a remaining balance of $30 that needed to be paid. We asked what that was all about and we were informed that EVERYONE'S rent had been raised to $700 a month. We were very upset, so my wife went into the office and talked to them about it while I was in a college class. They told her everyone's rent had been raised so we just had to deal with it.

As the months passed, we were notified that they didn't have certain documentation on record for us that we clearly remember obtaining for them. Also they have a track record for screwing things up.

All of this boils up to today. We were just notified that we had to pay a $400 deposit for a dog that we just got. I was a little upset because at no time were we told that there would be an additional deposit. I was sure that the pet deposit was not in our lease, so I went to the office to dispute it.

To my surprise, we looked over the current copy of our lease for this year and someone had forged our initials on every page. We were never given any copy of the lease, and had only signed the final page (which only has a few words on it). It is obvious that the documents were forged because they do not match my handwritting and they are in a different color of ink.

So I basically have a couple issues:

(1) Since there is nothing that I signed stating that I would pay a deposit to keep a pet, should I even have to bother?

(2) Since my lease was forged and I was only given the very last page to sign, am I allowed to break my lease? If not, am I eligible to have $30 credit for every month that I paid $700 for rent as well as reducing the remainder of my rent to $670?

Any other things that I could do (like bring legal action against the apartment complex for forging my lease), then I would appreciate it if you let me know that as well.

Thank you in advance for reading this... I am very upset and am seeking legal action.
 


K

Krazx

Guest
Here's a little update:

I had called the "Regional" center for the apartment complex and spoke with one of the major managers over there. He was very helpful and got a copy of both leases. He informed me that he agrees that the lease looked forged.

Unfortunately, he stated that we had to have received some kind of newsletter stating that the pet policy indicated a $400 deposit. I never remember getting anything like that (however I found it funny that a newsletter was sitting on my door last night and no one elses).

Also he said that since I've been paying $700 a month for rent for so long now that I pretty much have been accepting the terms of the new lease although I never signed it and was never even shown the new amount until a month after I had signed.

So now I feel trapped. Have any of you come up with anything to help my current situation?
 
C

CA. Landlady

Guest
What is stated in the lease about pets? If it states no pets then you may be stuck. Just know the additional deposit is refundable by law.

Yes, he is correct about paying the $700 rent. It trumps to implied/expressed contract laws. In other words, your actions speak louder than words when you paid the $700. However, due to the "forgery" I would expect you could give 30 day notice to vacate without penalty and not held to the term of the current lease.
 
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K

Krazx

Guest
Thank you for your reply, CA Landlady.

Unfortunately in the lease, it does state "No Pets Allowed", and the man at the regional office asked me "Well if your contract said no pets, why did you bother to get one knowing that it was against the lease?"...

I used the argument that I saw everyone else having pets. So as far as the pet thing, I know I am S.O.L. They claim that only half of the pet deposit is refundable. Is that right? *Sigh*

I've been talking to MANY lawyer offices today to get some kind of back up for a court case, but they are very difficult to get ahold of. I've been talking to some other people that know a little about law and was told a few things... are these correct?:

(1) We have to have 60-days notice of the rate increase.

If this is true, we were never notified of the rate increase until after we had already signed our lease (which we didn't get the part of the lease that had the rate increase).

(2) Because of their actions, we are able to break the lease without having to forfeit our deposit and move out earlier.

I guess this falls in line with what you were stating. I understand that as far as having the pet, I am on no solid ground... However, as far as the lease being forged and the rent increase, what other options do I have?

Contact local news papers? Keep trying to get a lawyer and file a possible law suit? Just break the lease ASAP and demand my current deposit be returned? They have been very nasty with me and I want to stick it to them as much as possible...

Again, any help is much appreciated. Thank you.
 
E

eberha14

Guest
Ordinarily, the fact that you paid the extra rent money would signify your acquiescence of the rent increase. It would also seriously weaken any argument you have about fraud and forgery. You should not have paid the extra amount.

Forgery is a crime. But can it be proven in this case?

What would help here is finding other tenants who rent from this landlord who have also been victims of this crime. Then together you can report the matter and press charges and sue to have the contracts invalidated. You need to interview people from every apartment the landlord owns and ask them if he did the same to them.

When signing contracts in the future:
1) There should always be two identical copies of the contract present or a xerox machine in the room so that you get a copy at the time of signing. Never sign a contract without getting a copy of it at the time of signing.

2) Never sign an incomplete contract unless it is expressly stated on what your signing that all original provisions will remain the same.
 
C

CA. Landlady

Guest
Eeeeek! I deleted a post I had made according to CA. specifics. I don't know much about FL. except a great deal of tenants complain about their landlords there.
 
K

Krazx

Guest
Thanks again for the helpful advice.

eberha14, we know another person who had the EXACT same thing happen to them. We were going to ask for them to back us up if we decide to take any legal action. Also, it is VERY easy to prove the documents were forged:

(1) We have a copy of the old lease, and comparing the writting is like night and day... completely different. Even the manager at the regional office agreed.

(2) The signing was done by us in blue ink. The forged signing is done in black. There's no way we would have went through the lease and initialled every page with one pen then switch to another just to sign the last page.

"Never sign an incomplete contract unless it is expressly stated on what your signing that all original provisions will remain the same."

That's the problem. We were handed the last page of the least and were told, "Everything is staying the same. The rent will be the same. Everything... just sign and we will renew your lease."

I have my wife as a witness, so it's not just me making this up.

Unfortunately I could not get ahold of any attorney's today, but I will try again tomorrow. I am pretty sure we have a good case here.

Again, any more advice at this point would be very much appreciated.
 
E

eberha14

Guest
Both you and the other tenant should report this matter to law enforcement and press for forgery/fraud charges. County law enforcement will have a responsibility to investigate the matter.
White collar crimes can be difficult to prosecute when there is only one complaint, but you have already found another person.

Go ahead and meet with your attorney first, however. Let him know you are intersted in pursuing this both as a criminal and civil matter. In the meantime, call a few other neighbors who rent from this person and ask if they've also been scammed. The more people, the better.

Please keep us informed of what happens.
 
C

CA. Landlady

Guest
This should also be formally reported be to your state's real estate commissioner. Whoever is the broker for that company is responsible for his/her agents/employeees actions in this matter. People can lose their license to practice bue to this sort of illegal activity.
 

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