Can I sue for damages when a rental company cancels an "agreement to execute rental agreement" contract?

Asked by wikit626, Eugene, OR Thu Sep 13, 2012

3 months ago we signed an "agreement to execute rental agreement" in Oregon. Now, 5 days before our move in date, the rental company has told us that the house we were renting is infested and trashed. They could have a month to fix this, but instead are canceling the contract and sending us our money back. We just moved from Boston, MA to Oregon and we are looking at major damages, especially that I will be unable to attend grad school next year because I will not be considered an in-state resident if I am not living in Oregon for a full year. I looked back at the contract and was shocked that it states "return of the deposit shall be the applicant's sole remedy for failure to convey possession of the unit." Is it legal to write a contract where I lose my deposit for breaching, but the company has no punishment for breaching? Can I sue for damages? Our rental was canceled due to their negligence- we asked for photos and they would not send them but said the rental was in good condition

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Jim Olive, Agent, Key West, FL
Thu Sep 27, 2012
You can ALWAYS sue, as evidenced by the backlog on the dockets of our courts. The question is whether you will prevail. I'm guessing an attorney will tell you that putting ridiculous language in a contract, even if the other party signs it, doesn't always make it binding (because it's ridiculous!). This one would be interesting. Your damages are hard to nail down. You could establish residency without the rental, as long as you are in the state, seeking a place to live and working, so they could probably skirt that claim. Usually, you would be suing them to perform, or provide you the property they promised you. You might have a good shot at that. If they cannot perform for some reason (like they really sold the house and that's why it is unavailable), then the court would not likely look too kindly upon them and may award some punitive damages. But all of this is simply my opinion, I am not a licensed attorney and I am not familiar with Oregon law. Since I'm not charging you for the service, though, I should be okay sharing my opinion. Get a good attorney and ask them what they think. Perhaps, if the rental company did anything under-handed (rather than just plain negligent), you can make them pay your attorney fees. Best of luck...
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Charlene Pla…, Agent, Eugene, OR
Thu Sep 27, 2012
Hopefully you've found a place to live. If not, I know of a good property manager who I could refer you to.
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Terry McCarl…, Agent, Cape Coral, FL
Thu Sep 13, 2012
I highly recommend you consult with a real estate attorney regarding this situation.
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Melina Tomson, Agent, Salem, OR
Thu Sep 13, 2012
Where are you living now? You said you just moved here. You would need to talk to an attorney to see if you could sue, but that seems like a waste of money to me since the contract says that is your sole remedy.

Have you looked at the Oregon requirements for residency?… This is the guide from Oregon state but the laws are the same for all the schools. Leasing alone doesn't qualify you as a resident. You have to have permanent work, etc as well. So if you have started a job here that is more important that if you have two residences why you are here. You don't have to live in one place for 12 months.
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Anna M Brocco, Agent, Williston Park, NY
Thu Sep 13, 2012
When it comes to any legal issues, it's always in your best interest to consult with an attorney; most professionals do offer a free consultation.
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