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  • Landlord let me out of lease via email, but may deny it.

    Hi All,

    I live in Massachusetts. My landlord let me out of my lease via email.
    The message in the email is quite clear and refers to the date when we
    can move out legally. My dealings with my landlord were quite good, and
    I was so excited that I was off the hook that I didn't bother to ask
    for anything in writing (beyond the email). A few days before we moved
    out, I asked in an email for the security deposit to be returned to our
    new address within thirty days of our moving out. After 28 days, I
    didn't get a response, so I emailed again. I still didn't get a
    response after 31 days so I called. My landlord claims that I am not
    entitled to the security deposit because I broke the lease and is
    entitled to sue me for rent (for months remaining on our lease).

    I intend to sue for the deposit in small claims court under the
    consumer protection act for two reasons:

    1) The landlord never gave me a receipt indicating the bank account
    that the security deposit was deposited in.
    2) The landlord is witholding money from my security deposit for unpaid
    rent when we left legally.

    There is no cause in my lease saying that all modifications to the
    lease must be in writing, only that notices must be.

    I don't understand why my landlord would do this, and am concerned that
    I may be sued for the remaining months of rent in retaliation for
    sueing for the security deposit. My question is: how strong is my
    landlord's case?


  • #2
    Landlord let me out of lease via email, but may deny it.

    In article <[email protected]>,
    [email protected] wrote:
    1) The landlord never gave me a receipt indicating the bank account that the security deposit was deposited in.
    Are you sure that this is required by law? I have never heard of
    such a thing, but then again, I am from Minnesota. In any case,
    this is independent of your lease issue, so it is a non-factor
    in the case. This item did not force you to move out of your
    apartment.
    2) The landlord is witholding money from my security deposit for unpaid rent when we left legally.
    You are making a lot of assumptions about what is legal and what
    is not. Normally, a judge makes those types of decisions.
    There is no cause in my lease saying that all modifications to the lease must be in writing, only that notices must be.
    I think it is pretty well established that legal documents
    have to be in writing on paper. For example, how would you
    record an e-mail at the county courthouse? How do you
    notarize an e-mail? I think that you will find the e-mail
    to be interesting, but not binding.
    I don't understand why my landlord would do this, and am concerned that I may be sued for the remaining months of rent in retaliation for sueing for the security deposit. My question is: how strong is my landlord's case?
    Since you have already moved out, it is too late to take a
    different course of action. The best you can do is meet in
    court, show the judge what you have, and let the chips fall
    where they may. It all depends on the judge.

    -john-

    --
    ================================================== ====================
    John A. Weeks III 952-432-2708 [email protected]
    Newave Communications http://www.johnweeks.com
    ================================================== ====================

    Comment


    • #3
      Landlord let me out of lease via email, but may deny it.

      "John A. Weeks III" <[email protected]> writes:
      In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] wrote:
      1) The landlord never gave me a receipt indicating the bank account that the security deposit was deposited in.
      Are you sure that this is required by law?
      It is. Massachusetts is an incredibly anti-landlord state.
      2) The landlord is witholding money from my security deposit for unpaid rent when we left legally. You are making a lot of assumptions about what is legal and what is not.
      MA law makes it illegal for a landlord to keep a security deposit
      to cover unpaid rent, notwithstanding any lease provision to
      the contrary. The only thing a security deposit can be used for
      is to fix damage beyond reasonable wear and tear. Doing otherwise
      opens the landlord to a suit for up to three times the amount
      of the security deposit.

      --
      Rich Carreiro [email protected]

      Comment


      • #4
        Landlord let me out of lease via email, but may deny it.

        John A. Weeks III <[email protected]> wrote:
        In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] wrote:
        1) The landlord never gave me a receipt indicating the bank account that the security deposit was deposited in.
        Are you sure that this is required by law? I have never heard of such a thing, but then again, I am from Minnesota. In any case, this is independent of your lease issue, so it is a non-factor in the case. This item did not force you to move out of your apartment.
        2) The landlord is witholding money from my security deposit for unpaid rent when we left legally.
        You are making a lot of assumptions about what is legal and what is not. Normally, a judge makes those types of decisions.
        There is no cause in my lease saying that all modifications to the lease must be in writing, only that notices must be.
        I think it is pretty well established that legal documents have to be in writing on paper. For example, how would you record an e-mail at the county courthouse? How do you notarize an e-mail? I think that you will find the e-mail to be interesting, but not binding.
        Not all correspondence must be on paper. The courts have quite often allowed
        email as a "written record." Now if the document must be filed (such as a
        deed) or notorized (birth certificate) as a part of the record, then you'd
        have a point. But email, webpages, etc. can be valid "in writing" forms of
        correspondence and can be considered legally binding. How-ever, emails, etc
        can be forged and thus may be looked at more closely than other documents.
        I don't understand why my landlord would do this, and am concerned that I may be sued for the remaining months of rent in retaliation for sueing for the security deposit. My question is: how strong is my landlord's case?
        Since you have already moved out, it is too late to take a different course of action. The best you can do is meet in court, show the judge what you have, and let the chips fall where they may. It all depends on the judge.
        -john-
        -- ================================================== ==================== John A. Weeks III 952-432-2708 [email protected] Newave Communications http://www.johnweeks.com ================================================== ====================

        --
        Mike

        -------------------------------
        "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop
        thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do
        we," George W. "Shrub" Bush Aug 5, 2004

        Comment


        • #5
          Landlord let me out of lease via email, but may deny it.

          John A. Weeks III wrote:
          In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] wrote:
          1) The landlord never gave me a receipt indicating the bank account that the security deposit was deposited in.
          Are you sure that this is required by law? I have never heard of such a thing, but then again, I am from Minnesota. In any case, this is independent of your lease issue, so it is a non-factor in the case. This item did not force you to move out of your apartment.
          Stan Brown similar doesn't give a rat's *** about this, but
          the law in Massachusetts (MGL C. 186, 15b, 3(a), sentences
          2 and 3) does: "A receipt shall be given to the tenant within
          thirty days after such deposit is received by the lessor which
          receipt shall indicate the name and location of the bank in
          which the security deposit has been deposited and the amount
          and account number of said deposit. Failure to comply with
          this paragraph shall entitle the tenant to immediate return
          of the security deposit."

          There are a few technical requirements in that section like
          this one where the landlord can rather innocently lose his right
          to hold the security deposit.
          2) The landlord is witholding money from my security deposit for unpaid rent when we left legally. You are making a lot of assumptions about what is legal and what is not. Normally, a judge makes those types of decisions.
          Either a judge or the kibbitzers on m.l.m.
          There is no cause in my lease saying that all modifications to the lease must be in writing, only that notices must be. I think it is pretty well established that legal documents have to be in writing on paper. For example, how would you record an e-mail at the county courthouse? How do you notarize an e-mail? I think that you will find the e-mail to be interesting, but not binding.
          The folks doing the Enron case may disagree with you. Courts
          live in the real world, and recognize that magnetized bits of
          a disk are just as real as ink on paper.
          Since you have already moved out, it is too late to take a different course of action. The best you can do is meet in court, show the judge what you have, and let the chips fall where they may. It all depends on the judge.
          Unfortunately this is true. While the statutes are very clear,
          I have been before a small claims judge in Massachusetts who
          ignored them.

          --
          - David Chesler <[email protected]>
          Iacta alea est

          Comment


          • #6
            Landlord let me out of lease via email, but may deny it.

            [email protected] wrote:

            [OP was released from lease early by landlord via e-mail. When OP
            requested return of security deposit, LL refused and threatened suit
            for balance of rent due to breach of lease via early move-out. Lease
            does not require written modifications. OP wants advice.]
            I don't understand why my landlord would do this, and am concerned that I may be sued for the remaining months of rent in retaliation for sueing for the security deposit. My question is: how strong is my landlord's case?
            Impossible to tell without knowing the verbatim content of the e-mail
            and other communication that may have been exchanged.

            Obviously, LL is mad that you want your deposit back after he let you
            out of the lease. He probably expected that you would part ways with
            no further obligations or payments on either side. If you sue for the
            deposit, you should expect a counterclaim for the unpaid rent.

            As you have surmised, your main problem may be linking the e-mail to
            the LL (I'm assuming it says exactly what you say it says and nothing
            else, but I suspect LL will claim it was a compromise offer that you
            rejected). If he denies sending it, you will have to establish a
            likelihood that he sent it. Prior e-mail from him will be helpful in
            this respect.

            Before suing, you should think carefully about the downside, i.e., that
            you may win on the deposit claim but lose on the rent claim. If you
            could come out in debt, you might decide to let the deposit go and
            close the book on this one.

            Comment

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