Possible false pretense by Landlord when signing lease

This is a discussion on Possible false pretense by Landlord when signing lease within the Landlord vs Tenant Issues forum, part of the REAL ESTATE & PROPERTY LAW category; I signed a 1 year lease with an AIMCO community. When touring and signing the lease, I asked their representative ...

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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 04:41 PM   #1
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Exclamation Possible false pretense by Landlord when signing lease

I signed a 1 year lease with an AIMCO community. When touring and signing the lease, I asked their representative how heat is billed. I was told my heat usage is monitored. I then clearly asked, so the only heat charge I pay is what is used inside my appartment? I don't pay for any common areas or anything else? At which point I was told, Yes, you only pay for the heat you use in your apartment. Well it turns out this was a lie, because I am charged roughly $30 a month as a "base energy" charge, that they justify by saying I have the opportunity to turn my heat on (even though I don't).

Also, I have am given a $65 per month concession. The reason is they told me rent is $999 a month, however, it was actually $1064 but used a $65 concession to make it $999 a month. When signing the lease, I raised the question to their representative, what is the penalty for early termination? She replied, we need 2 month notice and 2 months rent penalty. Well it turns out, I also need to pay back any rent concession I had previously recieved, on past month statements that have already been paid and settled.

Also, the representative told me that not all the verbage in the lease applies because AIMCO is a large corporation and every one of their communities is different and has different rules.

I live in Rhode Island.

Am I liable for the $520 due for repaying concessions?
Does false pretense apply to this case?
Would it be reasonable to win this case?
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Old Apr 2nd, 2009, 08:11 PM   #2
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Default Re: Possible false pretense by Landlord when signing lease

The concessions are a discount on rent. All discounts on rent must be repaid if a lease is broken.

What false pretense? You asked if you only paid for the gas used in your unit. Yes you do. You aren't paying for a common area. You didn't ask if there was additional charges other than the usage charge. The gas and water companies here charge a base charge even if you don't use any. You should have asked if there were any other fees in addition to usage charges.

What case are you trying to win?
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Old Apr 3rd, 2009, 11:10 AM   #3
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Default Re: Possible false pretense by Landlord when signing lease

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The concessions are a discount on rent. All discounts on rent must be repaid if a lease is broken.

What false pretense? You asked if you only paid for the gas used in your unit. Yes you do. You aren't paying for a common area. You didn't ask if there was additional charges other than the usage charge. The gas and water companies here charge a base charge even if you don't use any. You should have asked if there were any other fees in addition to usage charges.

What case are you trying to win?
I specifically asked if I was charged only what I was used. I was told yes.

Also, when asked for clarification on what the penalty was to break lease I was told 2 month penalty and 2 months rent.

The answers they were providing me at time of signing the comntract completely contradicted what was actually true.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2009, 04:53 PM   #4
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Default Re: Possible false pretense by Landlord when signing lease

You asked if you only paid for the heat your unit uses, and not for any common areas. They answered that question. You didn't ask about base charges. You asked if you only paid for the gas for your unit. If everyone is paying this charge, what's the problem?

A two month rent penalty is standard for a lease break fee, as if paying back all concessions or discounts that you received during the lease.

I still don't understand what case you are trying to win. If you are asking if you can get out of your lease without paying these things, no you can't. If you are asking if you can break your lease beacuse you and everyone else have a base charge for your utilities, I doubt it. Everyone is paying it.
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Old Apr 4th, 2009, 09:04 AM   #5
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Default Re: Possible false pretense by Landlord when signing lease

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You asked if you only paid for the heat your unit uses, and not for any common areas. They answered that question. You didn't ask about base charges. You asked if you only paid for the gas for your unit. If everyone is paying this charge, what's the problem?

A two month rent penalty is standard for a lease break fee, as if paying back all concessions or discounts that you received during the lease.

I still don't understand what case you are trying to win. If you are asking if you can get out of your lease without paying these things, no you can't. If you are asking if you can break your lease beacuse you and everyone else have a base charge for your utilities, I doubt it. Everyone is paying it.
If I am not running heat, then I am not running the burner, hence they are charging base energy charges for heat I am not using. They told me because I have the opportunity to turn my heat on that I must pay.

What I have been explaining is when signing the lease, I had a question about their verbage on lease break, since I knew I may not be there for the full year. They clarified with me that if I broke lease, the penalty would be 2 month notice with 2 months rent. However, once I decided to break lease they sprung the extra $520 into the equation saying they had lowered my rent $65 for each month I had lived there. When clarifying lease break there was no mention of this and it was clearly explained my lease break penalty would only be 2 month notice with 2 month rent, never did this other $520 ever enter the equation, until the decision to break lease was confirmed, only after that did they come up with this charge.

When signing a legal contract, a representative from the other side can not mislead or give false information in order to sway the signors decision. The landlord knew the possibility I may break lease, and lease break penalties were a large concern to me, however, the representative gave me false information, making lease break seem much cheaper than it actually was.
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Old Apr 4th, 2009, 09:38 PM   #6
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Default Re: Possible false pretense by Landlord when signing lease

"When signing a legal contract, a representative from the other side can not mislead or give false information in order to sway the signors decision."

What!?!??? You signed a legal CONTRACT. Once signed, you are obligated to follow through on the whole contract. What about YOUR misrepresentation? When you signed the contract you agreed to pay for the whole term, not until you feel like breaking it! You misled him into thinking you would stay and pay for the whole term! That's what the contract said that you signed. The LL doesn't have to let you out at all. In some states, he can let it sit empty while he collects the rent from you for the whole lease term! 2 month's termination is standard in the industry as is paying back all concessions. You should always expect to pay these things if you plan to break a legal contract. Breaking a contract is not without these consequences. Did you get it in writing that you would not have to pay back concessions? Of course not.

And why shouldn't you pay a fee for the gas? The burner isn't on, but a pilot is. You pay a fee for cable whether you turn it on or not. You pay a fee for garbage, whether you put any out or not. You pay for the gas. Everyone in the complex is paying this. You are no different.

If you want to break the lease, pay the 2 months and all the concessions. Or stay in the complex and live out your obligations under the contract you signed. Your only other choice is for them to take you to court. They will recieve the concessions back in court, plus rent until the unit is re-rented, advertising fees, agent fees if they use one to find a new tenant, utilitiy fees if the company holds the property owner liable for your unpaid bills, and any other unreimbursed fees the LL has becase you broke the contract. This is all standard. Please educate yourself in renting standards before you rent your next place.
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Old Apr 9th, 2009, 03:20 PM   #7
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Default Re: Possible false pretense by Landlord when signing lease

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"When signing a legal contract, a representative from the other side can not mislead or give false information in order to sway the signors decision."

What!?!??? You signed a legal CONTRACT. Once signed, you are obligated to follow through on the whole contract. What about YOUR misrepresentation? When you signed the contract you agreed to pay for the whole term, not until you feel like breaking it! You misled him into thinking you would stay and pay for the whole term! That's what the contract said that you signed. The LL doesn't have to let you out at all. In some states, he can let it sit empty while he collects the rent from you for the whole lease term! 2 month's termination is standard in the industry as is paying back all concessions. You should always expect to pay these things if you plan to break a legal contract. Breaking a contract is not without these consequences. Did you get it in writing that you would not have to pay back concessions? Of course not.

And why shouldn't you pay a fee for the gas? The burner isn't on, but a pilot is. You pay a fee for cable whether you turn it on or not. You pay a fee for garbage, whether you put any out or not. You pay for the gas. Everyone in the complex is paying this. You are no different.

If you want to break the lease, pay the 2 months and all the concessions. Or stay in the complex and live out your obligations under the contract you signed. Your only other choice is for them to take you to court. They will recieve the concessions back in court, plus rent until the unit is re-rented, advertising fees, agent fees if they use one to find a new tenant, utilitiy fees if the company holds the property owner liable for your unpaid bills, and any other unreimbursed fees the LL has becase you broke the contract. This is all standard. Please educate yourself in renting standards before you rent your next place.
Actually, by law they have to release me from the lease because in the agreement, it allows it. In addition, I did not mis-lead them, I told them upfront there is a very possible chance I will not stay the full 1 year, and that is why the lease break terms were important.

Why shouldn't I pay a fee for gas? Because it is not used. If you do not use gas in a house, the gas company does not charge you. $40 in costs to someone who did not turn the heat on is ridiculous.

Speaking with a lawyer, the landlord can not lie and feed false information while signing the lease, not only is it unethical but it is illegal, making the contact fully or partially voidable.

Also, if the 2 month rent penalty and concession fees are held in escrow, I do not have to pay for advertising or any of the things you mentioned.

I know I signed a legal contract, I am not disputing that what-so-ever, however, the landlord can not knowingly feed false information to me as I am signing it, as she did. You tell me to educate myself, but you just spouted a whole rant where half of it is not the case. You sound like a landlord, not a lawyer.
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Old Apr 9th, 2009, 10:01 PM   #8
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Default Re: Possible false pretense by Landlord when signing lease

Unless your furnace is new and has electronic ignition, it has a pilot light, just like a gas stove. It burns a small amount of gas all the time. The phone company charges you for the presence of the phone each month. Do you get out of a bill if you have no phone calls all months? Do you get out of your cable bill if your TV is broken and doesn't turn on? How about your internet if you don't use your computer? You pay a service charge for all of these utilities each month, even if you never use them. The local combined water bill (water, sewer, & trash) charges a service fee, even if water isn't on and no one lives in a unit. In that case, no water is used, so no sewer is used. And no one lives there to put out trash. But we all still pay a base fee of $20. (Even after a house has burned!) By your logic, I shouldn't have to pay for any of these. Nice to know I can skip paying these each month. I'll call them at the next billing and tell them no one used it all month and see what they say. And my leased car charges me a base fee plus milege. If I don't drive it can I skip the base charge? Come to think of it, my cell phone charges me a service fee too each month. And the gym. If I don't use either, can I skip these? Just because you didn't use it doesn't mean you don't have to pay a base or service charge. You have the ability to use it.

What clause in your lease says you may break it? Does it list a termination clause? Does it say *in writing* you may terminate if you pay 2 months of rent? If its not in writing, they don't have to allow anything. And you didn't put it in writing that you might be leaving early either? Oh, that's right. You signed a term lease and put in writing that you would be staying for the full term. That's the purpose and definition of the lease that you signed. Verbal statements can't be proven in court. It is just he said-she said testimony that goes nowhere because the judge doesn't know who to believe is telling the truth.

The termination fees are paid to the landlord. (Don't know where you got the idea they go into escrow.) That termination fee gets you out of paying all those things that were required. If you fail to pay the termination fee and the concessions, then you are responsible for all the rest. The termination fee is supposed to end your obligation for all of those other things in the lease (the unpaid rent, etc.) That is its purpose. Make sure you get a signed statement that you have no further obligation under the lease.
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