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Shaggy Lawyers - Duty to inform tenant of sale of property?


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My guy has leased a house for a few years and the owner just sold it to a house flipper.  The current lease goes for a few more months.  The old owner sent him a notice to vacate in early May (45 days) with an offer of a months rent.  My guy never formally responded.  After talking to the house flipper yesterday, the sale has closed and he says the old owner told him the lease expired early May and did not provide it during closing.  My guy is actively looking for a new place, but wont be out til the end of May at the earliest.  We need to pay May rent and the old owner never gave a notice of the new person to pay.  I do have his address off the deed (which I looked up) and I have spoken with him.

What should my play on the rent here be?  

The reason that the old owner thought he could do all this is that the lease form they have signed every year didn't have the year updated.  So, the current lease has a stated term of Aug 2019 - Aug 2020 and was executed by both parties in Nov. 2020.  I got emailed and texts where the landlord italks about signing a lease for the next "year", I don't think I will have any issue showing mutual mistake if I have to.

No early termination clause in the lease, it's a custom form.

[I am an TX attorney, but I don't deal with this stuff very much]

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7 minutes ago, Gil Bang said:

I'm not an attorney, but who the fuck is dumb enough to buy a tenant-occupied property and NOT get a copy of the lease?

Old owner didn't disclose it like he should of.  The house flipper is almost certainly going to sue him unless they settle ahead of time.

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You said you can't move out until late May. Is there any way to make that happen earlier? If funds are preventing you from leaving early, the new owner might be cool to part with $ to get you to leave ASAP. It's cheaper and faster to give you money than work this out with lawyers. "Hey new landlord, I would love to move out, but I need my late May paycheck before I can make that happen. Give me $X when I move out on May 15th or I need to stay until May 30th."

I'm not suggesting to extort the guy to your benefit but I also don't see a reason that you have to jump to his schedule. 

But honesty, if you think your lease is good through August and have some way to prove that lease was signed in Nov 2020, why are you leaving? You can stay until August.  But good lesson that accurate dates on leases are fairly important.

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Simple - call the prior owner and tell hime to give your buddy two months rent.  It's a LOT cheaper than potentially forcing eviction. Another 45 days. Lease is ambiguous when executed and has been an express contract via performance (NOT a lawyer but a read some shit once) 

At the same time express a potential willingness to move out early for the flipper for a month or two of rent.

I would work both sides for Cash.  But the prior owner could get fucked with some shitty actions like NOT LEAVING by your Buddy.    But hey I had a 'Rita and in my evil brain mode.

 

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8 hours ago, Dr Fear said:

My guy has leased a house for a few years and the owner just sold it to a house flipper.  The current lease goes for a few more months.  The old owner sent him a notice to vacate in early May (45 days) with an offer of a months rent.  My guy never formally responded.  After talking to the house flipper yesterday, the sale has closed and he says the old owner told him the lease expired early May and did not provide it during closing.  My guy is actively looking for a new place, but wont be out til the end of May at the earliest.  We need to pay May rent and the old owner never gave a notice of the new person to pay.  I do have his address off the deed (which I looked up) and I have spoken with him.

What should my play on the rent here be?  

The reason that the old owner thought he could do all this is that the lease form they have signed every year didn't have the year updated.  So, the current lease has a stated term of Aug 2019 - Aug 2020 and was executed by both parties in Nov. 2020.  I got emailed and texts where the landlord italks about signing a lease for the next "year", I don't think I will have any issue showing mutual mistake if I have to.

No early termination clause in the lease, it's a custom form.

[I am an TX attorney, but I don't deal with this stuff very much]

Not sure you really want to argue mutual mistake, that voids the contract, typically, but you could argue for reformation.  "Scrivenors errors" probably get you where you want, but is a more common doctrine in wills and deeds.

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From your guy's perspective I think the best play is to not pay rent but get ready to move out by mid-May or end of May and angle for the cash for keys deal from house flipper and/or old owner as Nice Guy Eddie suggested.  Emphasize that he signed a lease through November and the difficulties of finding a new place, moving expenses, etc.  There is a requirement in the Property Code to disclose the name of the property owner to a tenant. Sec. 92.201.  It seems the main legal issue here is that old owner misrepresented (apparently unintentionally) the terms of the existing lease.  But that is not your guy's problem.  House flipper steps into the terms of old lease as it existed regardless of the misrepresentation.  House flipper could try to evict your guy but he is going to have to find a legitimate reason to terminate the lease early under its terms.

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In grad school I rented a garage apt. Owners wanted to sell their house and told me I had to be out at the end of the month (4 months before my lease was up) so they could put it on the market. I wrote them a strongly worded letter and advised them to consult with an attorney. The wife was a realtor, so I know they knew the law and were knowingly trying to fuck me over.  I told them I could be out of there two weeks after I received a letter affirming that I was an excellent tenant, and a check for 4 grand cleared my bank account. They wrote the letter, check cleared, I gtfo.

If they hadn't been dicks about it, I would have been a little less greedy, but fafo I say.

 

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Seems to me that the previous owner sold the house flipper encumbered property without disclosure.  House flipper's remedy is against former owner (don't think this is something that falls on the title company, but maybe).  Anyway, not your guy's problem.  If he has a lease and wants to stay through May, I'd say pay rent, but get in touch with former owner and house flipper first to get them to agree who accepts the rent since he's likely obligated to pay former owner under the terms of the lease unless there's some sort of management company.  If he doesn't pay rent, he's in breach and loses his leverage.  At that point, he can float the question about a cash for keys agreement for leaving early.  Look at the lease for the landlord's ability to terminate early, etc.  If the owner had some language in the lease that said he could terminate the lease early with x number of days notice and he gave it, it may be a different scenario for your guy. 

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3 hours ago, dcbc said:

Seems to me that the previous owner sold the house flipper encumbered property without disclosure.  House flipper's remedy is against former owner (don't think this is something that falls on the title company, but maybe).  Anyway, not your guy's problem.  If he has a lease and wants to stay through May, I'd say pay rent, but get in touch with former owner and house flipper first to get them to agree who accepts the rent since he's likely obligated to pay former owner under the terms of the lease unless there's some sort of management company.  If he doesn't pay rent, he's in breach and loses his leverage.  At that point, he can float the question about a cash for keys agreement for leaving early.  Look at the lease for the landlord's ability to terminate early, etc.  If the owner had some language in the lease that said he could terminate the lease early with x number of days notice and he gave it, it may be a different scenario for your guy. 

Possession isn't a title company issue. 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, dcbc said:

Seems to me that the previous owner sold the house flipper encumbered property without disclosure.  House flipper's remedy is against former owner (don't think this is something that falls on the title company, but maybe).  Anyway, not your guy's problem.  If he has a lease and wants to stay through May, I'd say pay rent, but get in touch with former owner and house flipper first to get them to agree who accepts the rent since he's likely obligated to pay former owner under the terms of the lease unless there's some sort of management company.  If he doesn't pay rent, he's in breach and loses his leverage.  At that point, he can float the question about a cash for keys agreement for leaving early.  Look at the lease for the landlord's ability to terminate early, etc.  If the owner had some language in the lease that said he could terminate the lease early with x number of days notice and he gave it, it may be a different scenario for your guy. 

Yeah it's negligent misrepresentation by the seller at best, fraud at worst.

Unfortunately, the literal terms of the lease (date) means he's evictable on 30 days notice as a "month-to-month" tenant.  But he could probably prove that the lease extends until August 2021 if push came to shove.  The buyer/flipper doesn't have a super-solid posiition, so it should be negotiable.

The point about landlord's right to terminate early is a good point, but I'm thinking OP shirley would have mentioned that.  And he did.  I also assume OP meant Aug 2020 to Aug 2021.  That the signature date (November) is after the purported termination date seems like pretty good evidence of a scrivener's error, along with the parol evidence.  In fact, the conflicting dates probably raise an ambiguity that permits introduction of such evidence.

Edited by TwiceHorn
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Posted (edited)
On 4/29/2021 at 8:26 PM, TwiceHorn said:

Yeah it's negligent misrepresentation by the seller at best, fraud at worst.

Unfortunately, the literal terms of the lease (date) means he's evictable on 30 days notice as a "month-to-month" tenant.  But he could probably prove that the lease extends until August 2021 if push came to shove.  The buyer/flipper doesn't have a super-solid posiition, so it should be negotiable.

The point about landlord's right to terminate early is a good point, but I'm thinking OP shirley would have mentioned that.  And he did.  I also assume OP meant Aug 2020 to Aug 2021.  That the signature date (November) is after the purported termination date seems like pretty good evidence of a scrivener's error, along with the parol evidence.  In fact, the conflicting dates probably raise an ambiguity that permits introduction of such evidence.

If it ever got that far, court looks at the language of the lease and interprets as a matter of law unless ambiguous, and it's probably Texas Association of Realtors form stuff that probably has been massaged over the years to be fairly unambiguous and pro-landlord, to the extent the property code doesn't have something I can't remember that helps a tenant in this situation..  Almost can't remember the subject matter of the OP at this point (a few drinks in), so I'm sure he mentioned more than I can remember at this point. 

Not that you don't know all this, but just saying it to say it.  His situation is more about the fact that OP's guy has bargaining leverage than why he has it.

Edited by dcbc
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Last year of college our landlord asked me if we could vacate the house we were renting two months early.  He wanted out of the landlord business, had previously offered to sell me the house with owner financing at a competitive rate (dumb move on my part not to take him up on that as that property is probably worth close to 7 figures now) and he needed to get the deal closed with the buyer.  Two of the three roommates were moving out of town and were going to have to just eat the last few months of rent as a cost of doing business, so they were thrilled at the development,  and I was staying in Austin and found a new place quickly.  We happily accepted his offer and the three of us went to Cancun for a week on the check he cut us for getting out on his timeframe.  These things can have happy endings.

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Some family that lives in my hood was renting a house for the past 2 years and were just given 48 hours to vacate the house so the owner cloud sell it ASAP in this hot market.  I guess they signed a crappy lease agreement but that’s pretty cold hearted to do that to a family.

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Some family that lives in my hood was renting a house for the past 2 years and were just given 48 hours to vacate the house so the owner cloud sell it ASAP in this hot market.  I guess they signed a crappy lease agreement but that’s pretty cold hearted to do that to a family.

I’ll be surprised if that’s legal. It sure as fuck wouldn’t be in California
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19 minutes ago, Beantown Express 2.0 said:

This is Texas so anything you can do bad to someone is legal.... but you can't smoke weed legally.  Got to have priorities.

Yeah, that's what I imagined.

 

Out here, the minimum notice is 30 days, and it's 60 days for a tenant that's been there longer than a year. 

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Yeah, that's what I imagined.
 
Out here, the minimum notice is 30 days, and it's 60 days for a tenant that's been there longer than a year. 

In Louisiana you record your lease and they can’t toss you till the lease term ends due to sale of property
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