Seeing as we take part in many different forms of contracts on a daily basis, they are a big part of our lives; whether it is clicking the “I Accept” button on some software we just downloaded, or signing a 10+ page lease agreement. We make many promises and commitments and it is important to know about the promises we are making on a daily basis. Last year I moved into my first apartment. I had never lived anywhere but with my parents and I was moving in with a friend of mine. We took our time choosing the right apartment and trying to find a good deal, an ideal nice apartment, but not too expensive.
My question is: how many people take the time to read every page and every word of a contract before they sign it? I tried, but after you sign/read five pages, you just want to be done, and that is what leads to problems. A contract as defined in The Legal Environment of Business and Online Commerce by Henry Cheeseman is an agreement that is enforceable by a court of law or equity. In other words, do not enter into a contract lightly, especially with how litigious people are these days. They will do anything to try to get some easy money.
With this in mind, let us explore a lease contract and my personal experience with my own. I chose to write about my lease because of the problem my roommate and I recently ran into that involved our lease. In January, we were thinking about what we wanted to do when our lease was up on April 5th, so we went to the front office and asked them what our rate would be if we decided to renew our lease. She told us we would get an offer letter from the apartment two months before our lease was up, so we decided to wait for this letter before making any decisions as to what we were going to do.
On February 10th (55 days before our lease was up), we got the letter from our apartment with the new offer if we decided to renew our lease. After a few days of discussing it and exploring our other options, we decided not to renew our lease. I brought a letter to the front office saying we were going to be moving out April 5th when our lease was up. They informed me according to our lease we had to give 60 days’ notice prior to moving out when the letter they sent us did not arrive until 55 days before our lease was up.
Our lease states in Paragraph 15 that the apartment complex has to give us sixty five days’ written notice for any rent increases. After much discussion with the manager, we ended up having to stay 60 days from the date we submitted our move-out letter. We made the mistake of assuming we had to give thirty days’ notice without double-checking what our lease said, and we assumed they would give us proper notice: how could we renew our lease without knowing what we would be paying if we were to do so?
Almost everyone at some point in their life will rent something, whether it is a storage unit, some equipment, an apartment, or anything else of value. It is interesting to wonder how many of those people read every detail of their lease to know exactly what they are getting themselves into. “History of the lease began more than four thousand years ago. It’s rich and various like the history of mankind (Mikro Leasing). ” There are many different forms of leases and over time leases have changed as times have changed.
For example: “In 1984, while the leasing industry was reeling from the third major tax change in four years, archaeologists found clay tablets from the ancient Sumerian city of Ur. They discovered that these tablets documented farm equipment leases from the year 2010 BC. (Taylor)” As you can see, the idea of letting someone use something of yours for a price goes back a long time. An interesting fact I found about residential leases is that in 1934 the average cost to rent a house was $20/month, I can’t even imagine that (The Year 1934).
The rent on my apartment, an apartment not a home was 40times that much a month. I know over time the cost of living has increased along with minimum wage increasing; however, it is interesting to think about the great changes that have happened over time. The parties bound by this contract are myself, my roommate (Ruth), and the apartment owner. Ruth and I are the offerees and the apartment owner is the offeror, and we accepted their contract with no changes. This contract is a bilateral contract that was accepted by promises from all the parties involved.
Both parties had capacity while signing the contract, they were all over 18, of sound mind and their hands were not forced. “Consideration in the law of contracts is something of value given by one party in return for the promises of the other party to the contract. ” (Us Legal). It is also an express contract where the terms are stated in written form, and signed by all involved parties. This contract is a currently valid contract; however, it is soon to be an executed contract. The statute of frauds requires that certain contracts be in writing and leases that last for more than a year fall under that requirement.
The statute of frauds is there to help protect against false claims, having a contract in writing does not guarantee there is not going to be some sort of problem however it can help you solve those problems easier and less messily. There are many steps one should take prior to signing something as legally binding as a lease contract. Some of those steps consist of research, such as researching the place or item you are looking at renting, and researching the lease they are having you sign and the terms you are agreeing to.
There is also negotiating: if you have a problem with something in the contract they are asking you to sign, it is not wise to just sign that contract and ignore your issue; rather, negotiate with them first to make sure that it is fair on both sides. Pay attention to the things like terms, deposits, what they require of you throughout the lease etc. Something as simple as asking questions and making small changes can make a big difference when signing this important contract. It is also important to know about what will happen if you break your lease.
There are not only consequences involving the owner whom you signed the contract with, there are also other external consequences to breaking a lease as well. For instance: “If you abandon your apartment, you put your credit rating at risk. While rent payments are generally not reported to credit bureaus, if you default on the lease, your landlord can get a collection agency after you or file a civil lawsuit. Either action can ding your credit significantly. (Rocco Pendola)” I would like to reiterate the importance of knowing what you are signing and not entering into the contract too lightly.