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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    2

    Default Are You Legally Bound to a Lease That You Did Not Sign

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: North Carolina

    I printed my name on the front page of a lease document. The landlord asked me to do this because she didn't know how to spell my name. However, neither I nor the landlord signed the last page with the space for a signature. I have written a check for a security deposit. This happened about three days ago. Am I legally bound to this lease? What will be the legal repercussions (if any) if I cancel the check and tell her that I do not want the apartment? I have not moved in.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Am I Legally Bound to a Lease That I Did Not Sign

    North Carolina permits oral leases of up to three years.
    Quote Quoting NCGS 22‑2. Contract for sale of land; leases.
    All contracts to sell or convey any lands, tenements or hereditaments, or any interest in or concerning them, and all leases and contracts for leasing land for the purpose of digging for gold or other minerals, or for mining generally, of whatever duration; and all other leases and contracts for leasing lands exceeding in duration three years from the making thereof, shall be void unless said contract, or some memorandum or note thereof, be put in writing and signed by the party to be charged therewith, or by some other person by him thereto lawfully authorized.
    The question is thus whether you entered into a lease agreement despite the fact that the written lease isn't signed. Although when there's a proposed written lease that is to be signed and it is not, it usually means that the agreement wasn't finalized, you appear to believe that you have completed the deal.

    Why not start by telling your prospective landlord that you want out, noting that the lease was never signed, and see if she responds by claiming that you're bound or if she accedes that you are not.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Am I Legally Bound to a Lease That I Did Not Sign

    I have told her that I want out and that the lease was never signed. She said that she would consult her attorney. As she has lied about other things, however, I wouldn't be surprised if she is just using this as a scare tactic.

    I found a place that was leagues better and would be much happier there. I need to know whether I should go ahead and sign a lease on the other place. If she does actually have grounds to sue me, I would just bite the bullet and go to the place that I don't really like.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    California
    Posts
    666

    Default Re: Am I Legally Bound to a Lease That I Did Not Sign

    In general, a written contract that is NOT signed is evidence that the deal was not completed and also that an oral agreement did not exist either. The implication is that there was a reason that the parties did not sign, meaning at least one term or condition that remained unresolved.

    She could allege that you had an oral agreement and sue based on that. Your giving her a check for the security deposit could be taken as evidence that you felt you had an agreement.

    If you want out, you should demand return of your deposit using the fact that the lease was never completed, thus never existed. If she refuses to return the deposit and/or alleges that the lease is valid, or that you had an oral lease which had just not been memorialized, you may end up with lawsuits against each other.

    Your position would have to be that a lease never existed and that you gave her the check in good faith in anticipation of the lease being completed.

    While there are never guarantees, a landlord suing based on an unsigned lease with no occupancy is not very smart. So, she shouldn't sue, but that doesn't mean she won't. If she does sue and you present your case properly, I'd think you would win.

    All in all, based solely on what you have posted, I would take that approach. In addition to the issues you have raised, this does not sound like someone I'd want to be stuck dealing with for the next year or more.

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