Monday, December 1, 2014

Get It In Writing

You keep nattering on about getting stuff in writing. Why?

It's not because I'm in love with paper files, let me tell you. It's because I keep hearing about tenants who made "cash for keys" agreements, moved, and then never got any cash. Any agreement you make with the lender or the lender's representative must be in WRITING and signed by an authorized representative of the lender. I mean it.  Do not accept a document that doesn't have a signature.  (Fax signatures are fine--they're legal.)   But it's not an agreement unless you have a signature.  Really.  An oral agreement is essentially unenforceable. If the lender won't put the agreement in writing, the lender doesn't intend to honor the agreement. It's that simple.

And I'll say this here, even though it's opinion and you can discount it entirely. Why would any tenant settle for a payment of $1,500? That's not enough to cover the deposit on a new house, let alone all the costs of moving. Calculate how much the lender is saving by not having to keep the building up for the 90-days' notice period, add your deposit and moving costs, and then a percentage increase for the hassle of it all. That's how much you should be getting--and get the agreement in writing.

Oh, and require a cashier's check or money order. These people are sleazy. Tenants Together recommends that you demand half the money at the time the agreement is signed, and the other half when you turn in the keys.  No payment, no keys.

I was asked whether email is good enough for "in writing." Well, yes and no. It's good enough when you're negotiating with your lender's representative. Just print out your email and your correspondent's email and keep them in a folder. Any contract, however, and that would include a cash for keys agreement, should be in hard copy and have the original or faxed signatures of both parties. Just because the lender faxed you the agreement doesn't mean you have a contract.  The contract should be signed by both parties.  To create a "dual original," just produce two copies of the document and have all parties sign both copies.