Legal Question in Real Estate Law in Florida

I believe that I am trying to be scammed by a false landlord. All of the following events occurs between Wenedsay, May 8th 2013 and Today May 10th, 2013.

I saw a listing online for an apartment in Miami at a very reasonable price. I received a reply to my inquiry within a matter of hours from a man who was posed to be the landlord. He said that the apartment would not be available until May 30th because a family was already residing in unit. However, he said I could reserve the apartment with a security deposit and first months rent each 1300, a total of $2600. He also added that I would be fully refunded if I did not like the apartment when I saw it. am out of the country at the mooment so all of our contact was via email. The paperwork process required no financial information, credit checks, background checks or further personal information other than my name and address. I am a student and I had mentioned that my parents would be cosigning. All other apartments I looked at had some kind of financial and criminal checks. Being a student, and my first time renting, I was a bit naive and signed the lease. However, I did NOT pay any of the deposits. I decided to do some further investigating (which I should have done before signing), and found out that the unit that is this man is trying to rent was sold to a woman on February of this year, not a the man who claimed to be the landlord on the contract lease. I got this information from the Miami-dade Office of Property Appraisal. The lease also had information for a wire transfer. My father brought this to my attention after I signed the lease that this does not seem right. He was not there when I singed initially. I brought this up to him including my concerns about the unusually easy process. I tried to call him yesterday from the number he provided in the email, but I got no answer. He called me this morning from a different number, but I could not hear him. When i tried to call the number back I got an automated response about a "Google subscriber" not being available. He called again from yet a different number and could not give me a direct response to my inquiry about the unit being sold. He said he would call me back and I am still waiting on a response. Based on this information, if he tries to take any legal action against me, can I sue him for fraud/scam? I am only worried because I had already signed the lease, even though I did not make a payment and the contract does not begin until May 30th. I asked if he would simply void the contract and he has not replied to that email either. This is my first time renting and I am only a student. The last thing I want is legal trouble my first time around. Please help.

Asked on 5/10/13, 9:46 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Barry Stein De Cardenas, Freixas, Stein & Zachary

Your paperwork controls. An attorney would need to review it. If this is a scam, then they are not likely to pursue you for anything. By the way, I would not advise people up front that your parents are co signing. Unless there is a request for a consigner, go it alone and leave your parents out of the deal, so they are not dragged into to anything unnecessarily.

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Answered on 5/10/13, 1:03 pm

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