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Verbal Agreement She Says  
User currently offlineeinsteinboricua From Puerto Rico, joined Apr 2010, 2978 posts, RR: 8
Posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 1292 times:

OK, so I need a bit of advice here to see what I can expect.

Around late April, I started looking for a new apt. for the next school year. The landlord of the one I was in had intentions of selling and, though she had not found a buyer yet, I didn't want to risk getting thrown out at any time. After all, would the buyer honor the contract?

Anyway, I found a nice place that was rented for $250/month. The landlord gave me the contract and I was to bring it as soon as I had the money to pay for the following months. In the meantime, I gave the landlord a deposit of $250 that would cover the month of May. I should mention that I needed my mom's signature on the contract as well so I decided that when my mom signed, I would bring it to them and place my signature in front of them.

Tragedy struck (not really). The whole university system went on strike, duties were paralyzed and money I was expecting was not paid. Fortunately, my internship was still on and and thought I would use the money to pay for the apt. Around mid June I called the landlord and told her why I haven't gotten around and she said to not worry that she understands the situation and as soon as I got the money pay her for two months (June and July). Around late June, the strike was settled, but there would be a special fee of $800 starting January so I thought that it would be a bit too much to pay $800 in January, plus tuition, plus the housing, so I started searching for a more economical place.

Around late July, I decided to stay with my cousin and called the landlord (well, my mom did) to inform her that I would not be using the place after all. She told my mom not to worry, that she was going on a trip but that she would be contacting her the following week to refund the deposit.

Today my mom calls her to inquire about the deposit. The landlord had changed her mind after consulting her husband because "she understood that we had made a verbal agreement (because she thought I was a decent and honest young man, true to my word)" and that I owed them for two months but that she would retain the deposit and then I'd need to pay for just one month. After a bit of arguing, she then said to forget the whole thing, don't pay her nothing but that she would retain the deposit.

Things I must emphasize here:
1. The written agreement (ie. the contract) was never signed or handed to them by me so by all intentions, there is no written agreement signed.
2. I never even stepped or moved into the place, so I never even used the place.
3. She says I breached a verbal agreement, but then again so is she by telling us that she will refund the deposit and then say no.
4. While I do admit of stalling (because it's been two months since the strike ended and so far, the university has not paid my my money), the thing is that the deposit is a damage deposit. How can you retain a damage deposit when I didn't even use the place?

I thought this is a bit like the layaway process at your local retail store. I paid them a deposit in the interest to save my spot until I had enough money to move in and continue as if nothing had happened. So if during a layaway you decide to not continue, you are either given a full refund or charged a fee. Though the first was desirable, I expected the second one since I agree that it had caused an inconvenience.

So, what's your verdict on this case? Who's right and who's wrong? Should I receive my deposit, be charged something, or receive jacksquat?


"You haven't seen a tree until you've seen its shadow from the sky."
7 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinecharles79 From Puerto Rico, joined Mar 2007, 1330 posts, RR: 6
Reply 1, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 1261 times:

Oh yes, the famous UPR strikes...I attended the CUTB (now called the CUB as the "T" for "Tecnologico" made it sound like it wasn't a proper university!) for 2 years and had three strikes affect us during those 24 months. I feel your pain!

Quoting einsteinboricua (Thread starter):
So, what's your verdict on this case? Who's right and who's wrong? Should I receive my deposit, be charged something, or receive jacksquat?

I think the fairest would be to split the money between the two of you. I do get the part where you "inconvenienced" her and she lost the opportunity cost of not being able to rent the place while still holding it for you. Question is had you not being in line to rent the place would she be able to find some who would? It's not like there are that many colleges around that area since the "Interamericana" moved to Cerro Gordo and pretty much all of the UPR students would have been in the same boat as you were.

Now I'm curious to see how this ends...you have to keep us posted!


User currently offlineajd1992 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 1260 times:

Best way to look at it is this:

If a verbal contract was agreed, you're not obliged to pay anything.

If a written contract was agreed, then you owe her what she asked you for (and presumably, you agreed to pay).

If nothing was signed by them then it's not legally binding, so she should pay you back. However, your fault or not she did lose out on 2 months rent and she probably wants to be compensated for that.


User currently offlineAirportugal310 From Palau, joined Apr 2004, 3575 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 1240 times:

Quoting charles79 (Reply 1):
Question is had you not being in line to rent the place would she be able to find some who would?

I don't think a small claims court judge would see it that way, and lean toward this:

Quoting ajd1992 (Reply 2):
she did lose out on 2 months rent and she probably wants to be compensated for that.

Which I believe is fair.



I sell airplanes and airplane accessories
User currently offlineeinsteinboricua From Puerto Rico, joined Apr 2010, 2978 posts, RR: 8
Reply 4, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 1224 times:

Quoting charles79 (Reply 1):
I attended the CUTB

I went to their preschool as a toddler and later did my first two college years before going to RUM where I'm currently at.

Quoting charles79 (Reply 1):
It's not like there are that many colleges around that area since the "Interamericana" moved to Cerro Gordo and pretty much all of the UPR students would have been in the same boat as you were.


Trust me, around the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez there is demand for housing. I am considering switching to the Interamerican university since on January another strike looms. We'll see. That's another detail...with a strike looming in January, there was no way that I could continue with the contract. I would have had to cancel it after finals (which, thanks to this previous strike, end in mid January), assuming of course that things got heated up.

Quoting Airportugal310 (Reply 3):

I agree with that, and I would not be pursuing this, except for one teensy detail: she had already agreed to refund the money. If I had called her the first time and she had said that she will keep the deposit, then I would have nothing further to discuss. But if she expected me to come through with my word, now that she had agreed on refunding, I can expect her to come through.

Even if I did have the right, I don't think there would have been anything else I could do. Court will cost more than $250 and it's just not worth it. I'll just have to be careful next time.



"You haven't seen a tree until you've seen its shadow from the sky."
User currently offlineAirportugal310 From Palau, joined Apr 2004, 3575 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 1181 times:

Quoting einsteinboricua (Reply 4):
I agree with that, and I would not be pursuing this, except for one teensy detail: she had already agreed to refund the money.

That may be 'true', but I think it would be considered 'here-say', aka he said/she said.   

Quoting einsteinboricua (Reply 4):
Even if I did have the right, I don't think there would have been anything else I could do. Court will cost more than $250 and it's just not worth it. I'll just have to be careful next time.

This is one of life's lessons learned the lousy way. Like you say, just be more careful next round.

One question from me, on the curious side:

Is $250 a typical rent down there? That seems awesome! I doubt it is, but still...that was a steal to my untrained eye.



I sell airplanes and airplane accessories
User currently offlineeinsteinboricua From Puerto Rico, joined Apr 2010, 2978 posts, RR: 8
Reply 6, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 1156 times:

Quoting Airportugal310 (Reply 5):
Is $250 a typical rent down there?

It's actually a room in a house (for some reason I called it apt...) with water included. This family had built a second house on their property which was their office for some time. The house is split in three: one part of their eldest son, and the other two parts for tenants. So it was $250 for a room plus water. Electricity and internet are not included.

That was among the cheapest I could find that was also in good conditions. Many other places were $200, $180, but were in horrible conditions plus no parking (I have a car). Some were even higher, with $400, maybe $500. These same people had a studio (a little big sized room...I think you know what I mean) for $400 in their garage.

Right now, with my cousin, I don't pay rent, just for the utilities and, oh yeah, it's a beach apartment.   . Downside? I'm 10 miles from the campus whereas in this other place I would have been less than a mile away. But I think it's worth it. I'm with people I know and life here is tranquil.



"You haven't seen a tree until you've seen its shadow from the sky."
User currently offlineAirframeAS From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 14150 posts, RR: 24
Reply 7, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 1143 times:

Quoting einsteinboricua (Thread starter):
1. The written agreement (ie. the contract) was never signed or handed to them by me so by all intentions, there is no written agreement signed.

If there is nothing in writing with both parties signing to it, then there is nothing to go by. The courts will tell you that. A verbal agreement means nothing to a court of law. Get everything in writing and signed by both parties in order to get something enforced in a court of law.

Quoting einsteinboricua (Thread starter):
2. I never even stepped or moved into the place, so I never even used the place.

Doesn't make a difference at all. The court would not even care about that.

Quoting einsteinboricua (Thread starter):
3. She says I breached a verbal agreement, but then again so is she by telling us that she will refund the deposit and then say no.

Verbal agreements are hearsay. There is no proof that you made such agreement. Again, in order for the landlord to prove you agreed to something, he/she MUST get that in writing and signed by both parties.

Quoting einsteinboricua (Thread starter):
4. While I do admit of stalling (because it's been two months since the strike ended and so far, the university has not paid my my money), the thing is that the deposit is a damage deposit. How can you retain a damage deposit when I didn't even use the place?

It is like a security deposit. It is used for many reasons, even without a signed agreement. If you bow out of the place (decide not to rent it for whatever reason) or make damage to the place, that money is used for recovery. But your case seems rare - at least to me. Get an attorney and see what he/she says.

Quoting einsteinboricua (Thread starter):
Should I receive my deposit, be charged something, or receive jacksquat?

If I were in your shoes, I would walk away from the deposit. It is not worth fighting over. Those folks can deal with that deposit. If they want more money from you, tell them to sue you for it. Tell them you do not have a written agreement and wish them luck in their success in a court of law because they'll be needing it.

No written agreement = No judgment in a court of law...meaning it is all hearsay. I am pretty sure the favor will be on your side. So just walk away from the deposit and don't return the landlord's call nor get into a conversation with them. Move on.



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