Legal Question in Business Law in Maine

In 2011 I engaged in a rental contract that was $2500 per month. My wife and I rented this home becuase we intended on buying the home, it was a short sale and the previous owner was not paying mortgage payments. I asked if the previous owner could lower the rent to 1250 so that we could save more to put down on the home as it was looking like the bank was bumping our offers. He sent an e-mail stating it was ok to lower the rent and continue payments monthly. After 8 months of no closing we decided to build a home and told the owner we were no longer interested and we would be moving out asap. The previous owner then demanded we pay the $2500 per month now that we were not buying his home. My question is, as soon as he e-mailed it was ok to drop the rent payment, didn't that e-mail void any contract that we had?

Asked on 4/16/13, 6:04 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Jerome Gamache Ainsworth Thelin & Raftice, P.A.

As you may suspect, this web forum cannot be used for specific legal advice, however I can comment on your inquiry.

It is true that the exchange of emails can modify a contract as they show in writing a changed term. So in that sense the answer to your question is a qualified "Yes".

However, all of the contract documents would need to be reviewed as a complete package to see if there is any ambiguity as to the modification. For example was the reduced rent contingent on your performing in some manner that you did not do?

It seems unlikely there is a valid claim to retroactively obtain increased rent from you, however, once the determination was made the short sale would not occur and you wanted to terminate the lease, did you provide proper notice? do you have a security deposit? is the reduced rent now back up to $2,500 prospective until you leave? I would want to review those questions as well.

Thanks- Jerome

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Answered on 4/16/13, 6:12 am

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