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Signed in pencil and forged?

Ashland, PA |

My current landlady sent her maintenance man to sign her portion to the lease. He signed HER name and he only brought a pencil for the lease signing! We asked the landlady to come over with a new lease to be signed by all of us in pen. She refused to take our calls. Now we are moving out because there is a lot of major issues with the property (structurally) and she will not fix them or return our calls. (Mold growing is basement, upstairs toilet leaking into our kitchen, sink holes in the back yard)
Is our lease agreement legal?

Attorney Answers 6


  1. Recommend you do NOT move out until you have spoken with a PA landlord tenant attorney. While you appear to have grounds to terminate, receive rent abatement, your SD back, and maybe damages, if you move out improperly (i.e. in some manner contrary to the statutes in your state) you might lose all that AND open yourself to a suit from the landlord. See a PA attorney IMMEDIATELY. Many offer free consultations.

    NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the US Federal Courts in Virginia. His answers to any Avvo question are rooted in general legal principles--NOT your specific state laws. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.


  2. Probably. You signed it, right? I agree with my colleague. You must first make formal demand for repairs in writing and give the landlord an opportunity to cure. This is the law. Failure to do so exposes you to liability.


  3. Pencil signature counts. So does crayon signature.

    Lease is legal so don't move out UNTIL you hire counsel and get advised.


  4. Dear Ashland Tenant:

    I am an attorney licensed to practice law in New York. I do not practice law in Pennsylvania.

    You received a number of responses from attorneys, but as none are licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, I suggest that you re-post the question and request that attorneys familiar with Pennsylvania Landlord and Tenant law respond.

    The signature on the lease must be made with some form of permanent mark. The lease likely contains a requirement that the lease is signed using ink.

    A crayon would work (not erasable) but a pencil marking is not permanent, as it may be erased.

    See the article at:(http://www.reageradlerpc.com/articles-resources/article/11-10-05/Legal_Issues_Relating_to_a_Signature.aspx)

    Your state has a robust statute relating to the tenant security deposit.

    See: (http://www.thelpa.com/lpa/landlord-tenant-law/pennsylvania-security-deposit-law.html)

    So whatever you do you do not want to jeopardize the recovery of your security and you want to know how the landlord may err and allow you to recover more than the original deposit.

    Pennsylvania does not have a statutory Warranty of Habitability, and tenant rights to repairs and to a habitable home, and the remedies allowed are limited to some statutes relating to repair and deduct and the outcome of a trial involving the tenant's claim of a breach of the implied Warranty of Habitability. Judge's brought the Warranty of Habitability to Pennsylvania in 1979, but the legislature has not seen the need to create a firm statute, so everyone has to fight out their warranty claims in court.

    Read more at:

    (http://dzmmlaw.com/2012/08/15/tenant-remedies-implied-warrant-habitability-pennsylvania/)

    (http://tenant.net/Other_Areas/Penn/harris/pa-part2.html)

    And at:

    (http://www.buteralaw.com/newsletters.asp?c=88&id=602)

    And see an attorney. Tenants are strongly cautioned to engage an attorney as the landlord and tenant process is risky and will lead to an eviction if not properly defended by the tenant.

    Try to re-post the question and request answers only from Pennsylvania attorneys.

    Good luck.

    The answer provided to you is in the nature of general information. The general proposition being that you should try to avoid a bad outcome if you can.


  5. 1. Forged is without the other person's consent, so that's not the case.
    2. Pencil or not, it sounds like you have a binding agreement, but as Mr. Smollens suggests, you need to have a Pennsylvania-licensed attorney look at this more carefully.

    Good luck!

    I may be guessing or not licensed in your state. No atty/client relationship exists. I earn my living collecting points for "helpful" answers.


  6. The lease is likely valid, unless it has in fact been altered as you suspect. Whether you has sufficient cause to break the lease under a constructive eviction theory requores mre information. There are some risks to just leaving, the labdlord could sue you for unpaid rent and retain your deposit. You should consult with an attorney in person to go over all of the risks and rights.

    All information provided in this comment is intended for informational purposes only and does not, by itself, create an attorney client relationship. Without the benefit a personal consultation to exploe all of the facts of your legal problem, the information in this posting may be inaccurate and for that reason it should not be relied upon. If you wish to consult with an attorney, or have any questions concerning this comment, please feel free to contact our offices through any of the above contact sources.