I went to see a commercial property in March and paid a security deposit and wrote check for first months rent (dated june as he waived rent until june). I asked for a written lease but didn't receive one until this month. Most of the terms on the written lease were never discussed or were different than what was discussed. I told the landlord I didn't want to rent the property. Also when I received keys to the property in April, the place was terrible (mold, broken lights, etc) and I asked again for a written lease. Since sending the letter that I would not be renting, the landlord has threatened to sue me for the years rent. I never signed the lease.
If you did not sign the lease you are not likely bound by same. As to the security deposit, and the first months rent, you may have problems recovering same as the landlord arguably held the property for you and probably could not mitigate damages in such a short time. Confirm with local landlord-tenant counsel.
Based on the very limited information provided, you will most likely have to bring a lawsuit against the property owner (don't call him your"landlord") to have any monies returned to you. You need to consult with a local litigation attorney about all the facts surrounding the transaction, such as whether anything was written on the checks describing what their purpose was, to reviewing all correspondence (including emails) between you and the owner.
I agree. The property owner cannot force you to pay an entire years worth of rent when the lease was never signed. However, it will be difficult to recover the monies you paid. If I had more information about all the facts and circumstances I could tell you whether or not it was worth pursuing.
Leslie A. Margolies, Esq. is an attorney and Director of The Real Estate Law Group which provides affordable legal representation (sliding scale) for people with property problems in all the counties including Philadelphia and surrounding areas. She is also a credit repair specialist and has many years of experience as a civil litigator including workers' compensation and social security disability cases. Please note that responses to questions on this website are for general purposes only. Such responses may not be considered legal advice and do not establish an attorney-client relationship.
I am a California transactional real estate attorney and am not licensed to practice law in PA; the following is not intended to be legal advice. I agree that the owner probably will not be able to recover the entire year's rent because no lease was signed. However, since you accepted the keys to the premises and the landlord accepted rent from you, there is a chance that a verbal rental agreement was created. If so, the owner would likely be entitled to 30 days' notice before your termination is deemed effective. (Meaning you would owe for rent up until that 30 day notice period expired.) Please consult with an experienced and local real estate attorney to provide advice as to your actual rights and obligations.
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You do need to speak with local counsel familiar with PA law. When you do, ask about a claim for unjust enrichment against the property owner for keeping your deposit and rent under these circumstances. Good luck.
If you did not sign the lease then the rule of thumb would be you are renting month to month so with thirty days notice you could move out. In addition, a security deposit is supposed to be used for damages to the property and not for rent. Most land lord tenant acts have specific provisions regarding what security deposits may be used for and what the requirements are once a tenant moves out such as proving an accounting within a certain amount of time etc.
You advised you were sent a lease and after review never signed it and returned it to the landlord. You can take the position there was no landlord tenant agreement and should request your security deposit, provided you never took possession. The question is a little confusing as you received keys which is evidence of possession (unless he gave you keys to inspect the property before signing the lease). The landlord legally should return the deposit and if not you may file a small claims complaint for the $500.
I must state that we have not spoken, I have not reviewed the relevant documents and facts, and I do not represent you. Therefore, my discussion above is not a legal opinion, but is informational only. Finally, my discussion applies only to issues to which Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Federal law applies, unless otherwise specified. This response shall not form the basis of an attorney-client relationship.
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