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As Always, the Contract Language Controls

Last week I successfully helped a client defeat a motion for an injunction in Boston Housing Court. The case involved a potential tenant who wanted to force my client, a property manager, to sign the lease and allow her access to the property. I rarely handle landlord/tenant matters, but this was essentially a contract case.


The potential tenant and property manager agreed on the terms of the lease, and the tenant signed it. However, the Lease was specific and required her to pay first, last, and security deposit before she was allowed access. The potential tenant kept delaying payment and could barely pay first and last.


The lease was supposed to start, and the potential tenant couldn’t pay the deposit. The property manager rescinded the offer because they needed to find a new tenant. It was evident at this point the potential tenant could not pay the required deposits.


My client told the potential tenant that the offer was rescinded. That’s when the prospective tenant filed a motion in Boston Housing Court to enforce the lease. My argument was simple: first, there was no lease – my client never signed it. Second, the potential tenant had to pay the deposits by November 1, otherwise, her requirements were not met.


The Court agreed. The lease had terms that both parties had to follow. The language was clear, and all parties agreed to the terms. The potential tenant had to pay the deposits; she didn’t pay, and therefore there was no contract. The Court denied her motion and dismissed the case.


This was a clear-cut contract issue. Party A was supposed to do something, and Party B would then execute a contract; Party A didn’t do it, therefore no contract. This case is a perfect example of what I often talk about – the writing (e.g., contract, lease, agreement) controls. If the terms are clear and a party fails to follow the terms, then it is a breach.


If you have any contract questions or curious if your current agreements are satisfactory, then give me a call, and I can take a look.

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