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If a management company accepts a cashier's check for first month's rent and security deposit, do I effectively have a contract?

New York, NY |

I've paid first month's rent, and security, in the form of a cashier's check, which is essentially a cash equivalent. Does this technically constitute a contract? I believe there was on offer and acceptance, evident through the request and acceptance of the money, as well as consideration (the money itself), and obviously, legal intent. They are giving me problems because of limited credit history... should they not have checked on this prior to requesting and accepting the first month's rent? I know in a prior situation, when my lease expired, I continued paying rent on a month-to-month basis and the landlord told me that simply by paying and her accepting, this constituted a month-to-month contract.

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Attorney answers 3


I believe that if you have not signed a lease you have a month-to-month tenancy and the landlord can start the proper eviction proceedings if that is what they want to do.

I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases. Feel free to check out my web site and contact me at (212) 577-9797 or via email at I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. The above answer is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.


Did they give you the keys and possession of the premises? If so, and you have not signed a lease, then you have a month-to month tenancy which may be canceled at any time upon 30 days written notice. If you have not been given keys and possession and there is a written lease that has to be signed then you don't have a contract until a fully executed lease is returned to you. The landlord could chose to refund the money to you and not execute a lease.

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Dear Asker:

Without keys, you cannot move in. Without a lease, you may not have a contract.

If you signed a document, also signed by the landlord and or authorized agent, where the apartment you "rented" is described, by address, a rent term is expressed (for example: one year from March 1, 2013 to February 28, 2014), states the monthly (or annual) rent, states date for delivery of possession, then that document may be considered a lease.

If you have a "receipt" only, or if you signed an "application" you may not have a lease.

You may want to visit an attorney.

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.