The lease was supposed to be month to month, but after signing it, a copy was not given. Instead a copy was emailed, and in that copy there was no end date specified. However, in the comment box, the landlord had added that the contract was a 12 month contract, and is now withholding the security deposit if I leave. Is it legally acceptable for the time period, (all be it, a period not agreed to) to be put in the comments box, rather than putting an end date in the correct box, which was left blank?
Your question is: Is this fraud or misrepresentation?
The answer is 'no.'
If you AGREED with the LL that your lease was supposed to have no duration, and can prove it in court - then MAYBE you can argue that you are allowed to leave early, despite the lease stating its a 12 month contract (which would fix its termination date as 12 months from execution and or both parties commencing performance. In addition - many leases also state the FULL amount of rent (i.e., annual amount) and how that is adressed might also be telling.
The roulette game with the Leases is a trick LL play; they believe that if you don't have a signed copy of the lease you will not make trouble, so they will delay returning it, or not send them back at all (after signing, if they do even sign) You (the tenant) has to be proactive, and make two signed copies of your signed copy; video the signing, have it notarized, send them the original; put one in your files, and mail the other one to your lawyer or yourself (don't open the envelope when you get it, just .stick it in the file); then be proactive and DEMAND (be nice) a signed copy from the LL if you do not receive it in a few days. Ok, I'm exaggerating but you get the point. But be diligent.
In any event, even if you could argue that you didn't "agree (on the lease) to the 12 month term, the fact is you received it - and stayed nonetheless, implicitly accepting the "new" term you now had notice of - why, the judge would;; ask, didn't you just move out the day you got the "12month" lease? An no need to send ME your "counter" argument - it's not up to me - and whatever it might be, it will be up to a judge to decide who has the better explanation of events. To ME, this makes it a "pick em.".
That said, I suggest you consult with a good local real estate attorney before leaving; my guess is the LL will not budge, and there is always the chance (depending on the lease terms) he could make try to get you to you pay far more than the security deposit,
Hope this helps.
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Not if you cannot prove it no. That is why there is a lease, to specify the terms. Generally oral agreements cannot be used to supplement a written contract (parole evidence rule)
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