I have a friend who is a single mother of two, who moved from Kansas to Utah this week. She signed a lease agreement and DID NOT provide consideration (no security deposit, etc.). The next day she did not feel right about the unit as the home for her family. She informed the property owner who responded by stating that Utah law requires her to pay the first month's rent because she signed the lease agreement. She reluctantly gave him $1,200 and received nothing in return (she is currently staying with a friend). It seems to me the property owner took advantage of her and does not have any legal standing to do so given that no consideration was exchanged upon execution of the lease. Please advise. Thank you.
If your friend signed the lease, then a binding contract was formed, even if she did not move in. This is not really an issue about "consideration" (there was valid consideration because both parties made promises to provide something: money and an apartment). This really appears to be an issue about consequences of a breach of the contract. If your friend had refused to pay and immediately notified of her intent not to move in, then landlord would have had to make a decision of whether to pursue a claim (which is probably unlikely). The landlord would also have had an obligation to rent out the home, and if successful, would not have been able to collect double rent.
Now that your friend has paid, she has made it a little more difficult. She may still have a claim for breach of contract or an equitable claim if the landlord proceeds to rent the apartment out to someone else. It may be worth a letter to the landlord in effort to try to reach a compromise.
This post is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney client relationship. Any the recipient of these answers should understand that any opinions are based on incomplete information and are not to be relied upon in any specific situation. Any individuals seeking legal advice should contact an attorney. No attorney client relationship will be formed with Mr. Thornton unless Mr. Thornton is contacted directly by phone or email and agrees to enter into an attorney-client relationship through a written agreement.
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