I am a landlord in NH. I own a two family home and live in one of the apts. I let the ciurrent tenant do laundry in my house for a while to help her out but in the last two weeks she has become very unstable and threatening. While the signed lease does not state laundry is included in the rent we were joking one day (while we were are good ters) and she thanked me for letting her do laundry. I texted back something about it being part of the rent. Since I am now seriously afraid of her and lock my doors she says it will affect the rent because she has it in a text message that I said laundry is part of the rent but again it is not on the signed lease. I do not feel comfortable in her entering my home and am going to start an eviction process. I guess my question is. Is a text message a legal binding agreement?
Real Estate Attorney
I can imagine arguments that say it would be, but if you can show there was no meeting of the minds (you were joking around) that should get around it.
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No, it is not legally binding. The original lease terms are what governs this situation. You cannot change the terms of the original lease contract without, what we call in the legal world, "consideration." What was the consideration in this addendum (if she wants to call the text message an 'addendum') to the lease agreement? Nothing. As such, this has no legal significance and you cannot be held to it. Simply hold up the lease, show how it says nothing in there regarding laundry being part of the lease, and that's all you'll need. If she attempts to pay you less because she has no access to your laundry facilities ask her where in the lease it says that laundry was part of the rent. She won't be able to, but she'll say "It's part of the lease because of the text message." To which you will reply, "That was simply a nice gesture on my part. And since using my laundry facility was not in the original lease contract AND you have given me nothing additional (i.e., consideration) to use my facilities (i.e., there was no new contract, because a contract cannot exist without consideration by both parties), you are out of luck and owe me the full amount of the rent."
Disclaimer: I am licensed in CA only. This answer should be seen as general information only and not relied upon as legal advice.