My realtor successfully re-negotiated a lease with a tenant after my direct negotiation with the potential tenant failed. I told my realtor all terms must be the same except for repair. My realtor made a huge mistake by entering the wrong year on lease end date (he entered 11/15/2013 instead of 11/15/2014). I lost 12 months of $1600/month rent, or $19200. Now my renter is demanding costly repair which I would have the money to pay if this is a 18 instead of a 6 month lease. The renter refused to honor her 18 month lease, knowing the realtor made a mistake and she wanted out. Can I sue my realtor for negligence? I lost $19200 and this property is very difficult to rent and now I have a large repair bill (after paying the realtor his commission - no money left)
It could be there was a mutual mistake -- both parties intended that the lease contract extend to November 15, 2014. If so, the contract could be reformed to correct the mutual mistake. If the mistake was unilateral -- only on one side -- the situation would be different.
You have not as yet lost any money, since the missing year is in the future and there as yet has been no lost rent. Your current tenant may stay and pay the rent up through November 15, 2014.
You should consider approaching the tenant (or having your real estate agent do so) to negotiate the repairs for the missing year on the lease. The modification could be accomplished with an addendum to the lease or a renewal and modification attachment to the lease.
If you were to sue your agent, the agent could defend based on there being no written instructions or insufficient instructions, or that since you failed in your negotiations you advised the agent to do the best that the agent could. The agent could also defend based on there being no damages as yet, and that any damages were only speculative since the tenant has not yet departed, and may continue to pay rent up to November 15, 2014.
You can avoid a lot of legal expense by amicably working this out with your agent and tenant. You have something that the tenant wants (repairs) and the tenant has something that you want (the extra lease year). The agent should be motivated to rectify the mistake.
If you have not already, you need to write to your agent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to set out the facts, underscore your instructions, and ask that the agent resolve this matter. You may need the letter later to prove your instructions.
It is possible that you have a cause of action, however as stated by others it is also likely that you can work out an agreement that will be less costly for everyone and less stressful for you. Please contact my office to schedule a free consultation. Hawthorne Law Firm 214.675.9313
Dear after paying - no money left?
I am an attorney licensed in New York. I do not practice law in Texas.
If this mistake occurred in New York, you may very well claim that the broker's mistake cost you money, because in New York, all the rent due for the entire term of the lease, is owed at the start of the lease, and a New York landlord, could claim all rent due under the lease if the tenant breached the lease, moved out without permission, and did not pay any rent after. A New York landlord could wait out the entire term of the lease, without any penalty (other than allowing the rented premises to lay fallow) and at the end of the lease, sue the old tenant, for all the unpaid rent and try to gain a judgment. A New York landlord has that right because a New York landlord does not have a duty to mitigate damages (that means rent the apartment after the tenant breached and moved out.)
A Texas landlord appears to have a statutory duty to mitigate damages. Texas Property Code - Section 91.006. Landlord's Duty To Mitigate Damages; provides:
"***§ 91.006. LANDLORD'S DUTY TO MITIGATE DAMAGES. (a) A landlord has a duty to mitigate damages if a tenant abandons the leased premises in violation of the lease. (b) A provision of a lease that purports to waive a right or to exempt a landlord from a liability or duty under this section is void.***"
If your lease provided an end date for November 15, 2014, but the tenant chose to opt out of the tenancy, a year before the lease were to end, while you would no longer be able to look forward to the benefit of the bargain of your lease, the Texas law forces you to find a new tenant and rent the home out again. Your "damages" then, if you chased after the old tenant, would not be greater than the rent due for the period the home was without a renter. If you found a new tenant within a week, your runaway tenant would owe a week equivalent of rent, and not the entire amount that would otherwise have been paid, had the tenant lived out her lease.
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