Legal Question in Real Estate Law in Washington

I rent a house with several other people. We have a very good relationship with our landlord because we are excellent tenants - we pay in full on time every month, promptly notify them in writing of any repairs needed, etc. I have been on the lease for this residence for three years now. I recently reviewed our lease agreement and noticed that the rent listed on the lease for last year and the current year (rental terms June 2012- May 2013 and June 2013- May 2014, respectively) is less than it was for the first year I was here (June 2011-May 2012). We were unaware of this change, and have thus been overpaying our rent for 14 months. The landlord claims that this is the typo, and that we are to pay the same amount we have been, but from what I understand, we are only obligated to pay what is listed on the lease, and can request the overage (about $3,800) to be returned to us. Is this correct? Any advice for approaching the landlord with this?

Asked on 7/18/13, 9:38 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

James Vasquez In Pacta, PLLC

A lease is a contract, and the interpretation of a contract is generally held to be against the drafter. Therefore, you could be entitled to the over paid rent and to pay the lower rent per the current lease, however your landlord could argue that you signed the lease as is, and deviated from it by continuing to pay the original rent, therefore your action can be interpreted as your agreement to continuing to pay the original rent. There's really no good way of approaching your landlord about this since it will of course damages the relationship that you've established. If your landlord doesn't agree you could always suggest that the issue be submitted to mediation, or if the lease has a dispute resolution provision have the issue dealt with using that stated process.

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Answered on 7/24/13, 10:56 am

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