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Old 02-08-2011, 12:17 PM
Location: West Hollywood, CA
30 posts, read 122,580 times
Reputation: 63


Hoping someone can offer some insight here in regards to a lease issue. Sorry in advance that this is so lengthy.

My roommate and I found a great house in West Hollywood, applied, were approved and were to sign the lease over the weekend. I was out of town so my roommate took our checks for the deposit (set to move in February 18th) and went to sign her portion of the lease. She brought a copy home for me to read and sign, and upon reading it, I found several sections I won't agree to and will not sign unless these are changed.

The biggest part of the problem is our dogs and access to the backyard. We made it very clear that we wanted a house with space for the dogs, and the landlord even made it a point to say how secure the yard was, etc. Well the lease has an addendum (that overrides the actual lease itself) that states the dogs cannot ever go into the yard or garden - why would we rent a house that doesn't allow our dogs access into the yard, the main reason for wanting a house with one? This was never disclosed during our conversation with him at the viewing nor was it ever mentioned during numerous email correspondence.

The second issue is that we are responsible for ALL the utilities, which is fine, but not just for us, but for the guest house tenant as well as it's not run on a separate meter. The lease states we would be reimbursed $25 per month quarterly to cover the guest house utilities, which is clearly not enough. The average water bill alone is $40 per month and given there are two of us and one of her, that would still be an average of $10 per month usage just for the water. Add in gas, electric, and trash collection and you're definitely over $25 a month.

So I've emailed him twice, first about the stipulation regarding the dogs and when I didn't hear from him after 24 hours, a second one regarding all the issues I have with the lease. My roommate and I were advised to stop payment on our deposit checks until we can reach an agreement with him in regards to these issues. Once we reach a mutual agreement in regards to these sections of the addendum and changes are made, then we will issue new checks and sign.

Although my roommate did sign (I have not signed anything) her name was incorrect on the lease (not a misspelling, but a different first name entirely) so he made the correction in handwriting but neither of them acknowledged the correction with initials next to it.

Is this lease even valid since the name is wrong and I have not yet signed? Wouldn't non-disclosure of information such as the yard issue and the utilities for the guest house before we got to this point be a leg to stand on in this situation? I told him in the email that had we known of these stipulations we never would have moved forward with the application process.

Any thoughts and input would be helpful - thank you.
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Old 02-08-2011, 04:38 PM
Location: Los Angeles
4,791 posts, read 6,959,808 times
Reputation: 6394
The smartest thing you did was to imediately stop payment on that check, but that is not the end of your troubles.
My first question is, how did your roomate sign the "wrong" name?
Does she not know her own name?
Why did she sign the agreement without reading it first?
Now, the landlord could proceed with court action to recover the term of the lease.
Your roomate in fact signed the agreement, and regardless of the name, the court could ask for a handwritting expert to compare the signature with her's.
She, not you, could be liable for the lease.
I don't think the landlord will persue it, but he, or she could, and be within their rights to do so.
Whatever was discussed prior to signing would now be considered hearsay in any court.
The terms written into the lease, and the signature of at least one party documents that the lease terms were agreeable.
I have been in property managrement for many years, and NEVER have I let a perspective tenant sign an agreement without reading it first.
I sit them down in my office, and instruct them to carefully read the agreement, and ask any questions before signing.
I would never give an unsigned agreement to a perspective tenant to take home with them for the signing.
It is ALWAYS done in my presence.
This way, there is no confusion.
Each party knows exactly what the terms are.
My advice to you would be to talk with the landlord and explain that you want the oral agreement you had to be written into the lease.
If he, or she refuses, it is time to walk, and hope the landlord leavs it at that.
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Old 02-08-2011, 10:08 PM
Location: Sometimes Portland, other times LA
600 posts, read 1,259,398 times
Reputation: 236
Yeah...that is a sticky situation to be in. For your roommate.
She signed the lease and obviously didnt read it. That makes her liable to the agreement. Explain to me how she signed the wrong name? That doesnt make sense.
Furthmore, I would question getting into an agreement with a landlord who is now dismissing your emails and being unresponsive
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