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1. I had a landlord in the past who slipped a 90 day notice requirement into the rental contract after I had signed it. I was house hunting, so at the end of my lease I asked to go to a month to month lease to make it easier to leave when the time came. Landlord and I agreed on a higher monthly price to compensate them for the lack of security, and I signed the contract at the office of a business they also owned downstairs.
2. Landlord wasn’t actually present, but one of their employees handled it. So, contract is signed and they go to make me a copy for my records, but are “having an issue with the copier”. After a few minutes they ask if they can text me when they get it to work. I naively agree, and head upstairs. 30 minutes or so later, they text me saying they got the copier to work, and I come pick up my “copy”. I didn’t think to double check everything at the time.
3. So, for the next few months I just pay my monthly rent while I look for a home. Finally found the right place, and the closing date was about 4 weeks out, so I immediately notified my landlord that I would be leaving on said date. Landlord responds that it’s nice I found a home, but I would be responsible for the next 2 months rent after that as well due to the 90 day notification requirement in the contract.
4. I’m totally confused, so I go check my copy of the contract, and sure enough, there is a stipulation in there about that. I also notice that my initials from the top and bottom of each page, verifying that I have read that page, have somehow mysteriously shifted to being doubled up at the top of the page after this stipulation, with none on the bottom of that actual page. This was because they had inserted 2 lines of text detailing the 90 day reporting requirement, after I had already signed the paperwork. They didn’t notice the formatting error it created, which was a dead giveaway of what was going on.
5. I inform the landlord of this, and notify him that this is not a legally binding contract due to this issue, and state that I will not be paying any further rent beyond this month, and expect my deposit back without penalty. Unfortunately he persists with stating that this is a legally binding contract, and he will pursue it in court in addition to withholding my deposit if I fail to pay, blah blah blah… I know I am legally in the right, but I don’t want to have to deal with courts to settle it as that takes forever, so I come up with an alternative plan.
6. The one thing he hadn’t thought about was the fact that the contract included all utilities, as the unit didn’t have separate meters, and did not have any language forbidding excessive use of them. It just so happened to be a particularly cold winter, so I informed my landlord that if he wanted to persist with his demands, I would be inclined to leave all of the windows open, crank the heat as high as it would go, open the refrigerator door, run the water 24/7, etc, and if he entered the apartment without my permission to turn any of these items off, I would report him to the police.
7. I got confirmation that he would not pursue the extra month’s rent or security deposit within 20 minutes. :)