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My wife and I were leasing a house with another couple. Two weeks into the lease, the other couple left in the middle of the night and we have yet to hear from them. My wife never got to sign the lease and we never completed the deposit.

Is the lease binding? We cannot afford to stay and we would like to move into some place smaller. This was in Florida?

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    I am not sure about the US, but in Australia if you have not signed the lease then you are officially not on the lease. It is up to the owners or real estate to get all signatures before the lease commences, or else someone is not doing their job properly. I have not included this as an answer because it relates to NSW-Australia and not the USA, but I would think it would be the same. – Victor Jun 2 '13 at 2:09
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    This is verging on a request for legal advice rather than a matter regarding personal finance. – Dilip Sarwate Jun 2 '13 at 2:19
  • Verbal contract is still a contract, but wrt your specific situation - you should talk to the (potential) landlord, or a lawyer. – littleadv Jun 2 '13 at 2:31
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    The question may hinge on "My wife and I were leasing " and "My wife never got to sign the lease". You may be committed, but we won't know because we don't have the law or the lease in front of us. – mhoran_psprep Jun 2 '13 at 2:31
  • Is there any kind of lease agreement? Who did sign it? – DJClayworth Jun 3 '13 at 13:14
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I am not specifically familiar with Florida real estate law, but I do know the laws for Utah and for Arizona.

In those states, the lease would be enforceable against anyone who has signed it. The idea called "Statute of Frauds" says that a real estate (rental) contract has to be in writing in order to be enforceable. So if your wife never signed it, then she's got nothing to worry about.

As far as you performing your obligations under the lease, that's a gray area for three reasons: (1) a contract has to have something of value exchanged in order to be considered valid. If you didn't give any money to the landlord yet, then technically the contract is kind of in limbo still.

(2) Depending on the level of douchebaggery you are willing to entertain, you could also just walk away from it. But that's kind of an a-hole thing to do if you feel like you have made a promise to someone.

and (3) If you do walk away from the lease, then you're looking at gambling on whether the landlord will actually pursue you (and the other couple?) for performing your contractual obligations. I have sometimes gone both ways on this in my rental properties... I know I have intentionally sued someone even though it would cost more than I would receive just because they were a jerk. At other times, I have decided not to sue... especially when I knew the situation.

My main piece of advice would be that the contract may still be in limbo, and that rather than asking the internet, you might talk with your landlord and explain the situation to see what can be done.

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