Is my lease valid?

Asked 10 months ago - Prineville, OR

My husband and I just moved into an apt with our 2 children. Before moving in or even signing the lease I asked the property management place about the neighbors and sex offenders in the building they told me there were none I was specifically asking about the neighbor closest to us because I had heard he was a sex offender. they said he wasn't but theyd look into it. after a month I decided to run a background check myself and it came back that he was and hes registered at that address. I would not have signed a lease and moved my kids in had they told me there was a sex offender next door. both of my kids are under 5 an his charge was sex abuse 1 on a 5 yr old. can they hold me to my lease after lying to me before I signed it? WHAT CAN I DO???

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Robert Lloyd Mauger Jr

    Contributor Level 15

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    Answered . Oregon divides its sex offender list into "Predatory" and others, depending on the offense. Ordinarily, there's no duty to by either the apartment manager or offender to disclose the location of a sex offender and this would not invalidate your lease. If the offender was a predatory sex offender, the landlord could terminate the offender's lease.

    However, if you made rental of the property conditioned upon the neighbor not being a sex offender, they knew that he was, they told you that he wasn't, and you relied upon this advice, you may have a claim for fraud which could entitle you to damages or give you leverage to terminate your lease. You should discuss your options and goals with your own attorney in private.

    Obviously, if you believe that you and your family are in present danger, then you may need to trust your instincts and get out now. But keep in mind that if you terminate your lease without proper cause and notice your landlord may seek unpaid rent during the term of the lease until the property is re-rented.

    Licensed in Oregon. Advice provided is general legal information relevant to the facts provided. It is not... more
  2. Gregory L Abbott

    Contributor Level 16

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    Answered . While I agree that you may have a fraud claim, the burden of proof will be on you and fraud requires a higher degree of proof than most other civil cases. If it is not in writing, this can turn into a you-said he-said case, making it very hard to win.

    Seems to me that you are essentially in the same situation as if the sex offender had moved in the day after you signed your lease. You would be in the same situation as you are in now, without any possible wrongdoing by the management. Was there anything in the lease that prohibited the management from renting to a sex offender during the term of your lease? If not, you are likely to have a very hard time prevailing on any sort of damage claim in my opinion. I agree with the others that friendly negotiation with the management outfit should be your first and main course of action, as well as, of course, consulting with a local attorney.

    Nothing contained herein should be considered as legal advice for any specific situation and nothing herein is... more
  3. Alan James Brinkmeier

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . It seems to me you should have verified sex offender status BEFORE signing the lease. You knew it was important to you, yet you signed a valid and binding lease without satisfying yourself. That failure of due diligence is on you. The landlord did not lie.

    If you were smart, you inserted a clause in the lease the you could walk away from the lease if there was a registered sex offender rented into the premises. A skilled lawyer could have reviewed the lease and drafted that language for you. If you did not protect yourself, and if the landlord did not lie and perpetuate a fraud, you have no recourse until the lease expires.

  4. Cheryl Rivera Smith

    Contributor Level 20

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    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Unfortunately any of us can look up sex offenders online. You should have done your homework. They can hold you to your lease, but perhaps you can work out an early termination.

    Actively practicing law in Texas. Inactive licenses in Arizona and Georgia. All answers are general in nature... more

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