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Does a contract exist?

Discussion in 'Rental Agreements & Subleases' started by Jeff_S, Sep 2, 2020.

  1. Jeff_S

    Jeff_S Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    California
    Landlord Albert has a vacant three bedroom apartment and finds a group of three, Betty, Carl, and Deb, who like the unit and fill out an application. Albert runs credit and checks references.

    Though the three are not perfect, the unit has been vacant for more than a month and Albert is eager to get it filled. So he emails a pdf of the lease to Betty, Carl, and Deb and they all sign it (along with a cosigner Eddie, Deb's father, who is brought in because she has bad credit). The lease is for a year and contains the "jointly and severally" language.

    However, right after the Landlord sends the lease out, another person Francis responds to an ad for the apartment. She has stellar credit and a great job with a very stable company. The landlord Albert has not signed the contract and would like to switch to Francis, but is concerned that he may already have a contract with Betty, Carl, Deb and Eddie.

    Would this be a breach of contract? If so, what remedy might the original group have against the Landlord Albert?
     
  2. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    1. Is this homework?

    2. Does the lease contain any language to the effect that the parties are not bound until and unless all of them have signed?
     
  3. Jeff_S

    Jeff_S Law Topic Starter New Member

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    1. Nope, other than the names, this is an actual situation happening right now.

    2. No, the agreement is an apartment association template and does not have any language that it is not bound until/unless they have signed.
     
  4. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Until ALL proposed parties to the lease have signed and money has exchanged hands, no contract exists.

    If no contract exists, a contract (as in lease) can't be breached.



    I suspect the agreement stipulates that consideration must also be paid in FULL, as in check, money order, or cash for the 1st month's rent PLUS a security deposit.

    I see no breach based upon your recitation of events.
     
  5. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Are you Albert or one of the others?

    There is certainly an argument that a contract exists even though Albert has not yet signed the lease. The facts given suggest that all parties intended to be bound under the terms of the written lease. Is it a dead bang certainty? No, but there's an argument.

    What remedy might the tenant group have? They'd look for an alternative place to live and could sue Albert for any increased cost. For example, if they were going to pay Albert $2,000 per month and couldn't find another place for less than $2,500 per month, they would have a claim for $500 per month for however long the lease term was. If it was a month-to-month lease, then it would likely only be $500.
     

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