need legal advice!!

tkepongo

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 31, 2007
102
0
Oregon State University
I'm part of a fraternity and every summer we rent out a "rush house" for recruitment. Some members said that if I moved in, I can get fall rent for free in our fraternity house ($1800). When we moved in, there was four of us renting out the house. I couldn't keep my job and couldn't afford living there so I moved back to my college town to work. During that time, another member moved in and replaced me. I never signed the lease or any papers at all and I paid $200 for the ten days I lived in the house. Our president called me and said that I owe him over $900 for the rent up there (even though I'm not living there). I'm only going to pay him that $900 if he agrees to give me fall rent for free.If he doesn't agree to give me free fall rent, and I refuse to pay, can they sue me? I understand that I verbally agreed to live there this summer, but they also told me that I would get fall rent for free if i lived there.
 

Ugg

macrumors 68000
Apr 7, 2003
1,985
16
Penryn
I'm part of a fraternity and every summer we rent out a "rush house" for recruitment. Some members said that if I moved in, I can get fall rent for free in our fraternity house ($1800). When we moved in, there was four of us renting out the house. I couldn't keep my job and couldn't afford living there so I moved back to my college town to work. During that time, another member moved in and replaced me. I never signed the lease or any papers at all and I paid $200 for the ten days I lived in the house. Our president called me and said that I owe him over $900 for the rent up there (even though I'm not living there). I'm only going to pay him that $900 if he agrees to give me fall rent for free.If he doesn't agree to give me free fall rent, and I refuse to pay, can they sue me? I understand that I verbally agreed to live there this summer, but they also told me that I would get fall rent for free if i lived there.
You'd probably have better luck contacting your university's legal help desk.
 

Electro Funk

macrumors 65816
Dec 8, 2005
1,073
0
The Opium Garden
So basically they want the money from the kid who is currently living there, and they want money from you (who isn't living there). Did you personally find the person who is living in the house in place of you? sounds a bit shady to me...
 

Ugg

macrumors 68000
Apr 7, 2003
1,985
16
Penryn
fraternities are a private organization though...so it's not the university's problem

Yes, but most universities have a legal advice department for students. I'm sure they have some kind of housing officer who can help you with off campus housing issues.

While frats are private, the operate with the cooperation of the university so I'm sure an issue like this is something the university could easily help you resolve.

Getting a third party involved is often a good way of resolving the issue with the least amount of pain. Also, put in writing everything that's happened and include if possible the dates and times that conversations took place as well as the names of those involved.

Welcome to the real world!
 

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
14,874
57
You can try the student legal aid office, or getting one of the more sensible alumni brothers you met help you work out the problem.

But, it is one of those things you may have to pay to avoid causing problems in the future with the fraternity.

All depends on whether you can get somebody to help you work it out with the fraternity president.
 

GoCubsGo

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 19, 2005
35,743
142
You'd have a better chance of getting better and possibly more accurate advice from your Uni's legal advice department than you would from MacRumors.
 

barr08

macrumors 65816
Aug 9, 2006
1,362
0
Boston, MA
You can try the student legal aid office, or getting one more sensible frat's alumni brothers you met to help work out the problem.
But, it is one of those things you may have to pay to avoid causing problems in the future with the fraternity.

All depends on whether you can get somebody to help you work it out with the fraternity president.
This is a great idea. Get an alumni who supports the fraternity in some way, financially or otherwise, like an advisor.

I know we have one alumni who comes to important ritual events and meetings to make sure everything is going smoothly. Is there someone like that for you? Get him involved before you take legal action.

On a more personal level, this guy is your brother, have you tried talking it out with him? If the Fraternity means anything to this guy, and it should - he is the president - then maybe he will realize what he is doing is wrong.

Maybe you could also work out somethere where you pay the money and have it go towards dues.
 

tkepongo

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jul 31, 2007
102
0
Oregon State University
UPDATE!!!

apparently my frat president said that i gave "oral consent" and he ILLEGALLY put my name on the lease. they say i owe $900 for the rent even though i was living 1.5 hours away. he doesn't believe that i deserve to get reduced rent (for the frat house) because i wasn't at the rush house enough (i can't afford the gas to drive up there). legally, i don't owe a dime right? i talked to a senior business student, and he said that the lease must be signed by me or its illegal.
 

j26

macrumors 65832
Mar 30, 2005
1,504
18
Paddyland
You agreed to move in there and pay rent for the summer. But moving out and only paying rent for a short period, you broke the agreement, so there might be a liability.
A lot depends on how long your space was empty at the house, and who got the person who replaced you into the house. What's also important is where this shortfall comes from. You need to know exactly why they believe you're liable for this money.


And what's a "rush house"?
 

Ugg

macrumors 68000
Apr 7, 2003
1,985
16
Penryn
UPDATE!!!

apparently my frat president said that i gave "oral consent" and he ILLEGALLY put my name on the lease. they say i owe $900 for the rent even though i was living 1.5 hours away. he doesn't believe that i deserve to get reduced rent (for the frat house) because i wasn't at the rush house enough (i can't afford the gas to drive up there). legally, i don't owe a dime right? i talked to a senior business student, and he said that the lease must be signed by me or its illegal.
You really need to go and talk to either the university's frat coordinator, the housing dept. or the student legal advice center. Chances are, the frat pres. thinks he can pull one over on you and doesn't think you'll get the university involved.

Frats operate with permission from the university! They are regulated and need to comply with certain rules.

Once again, you shouldn't be basing this on what some business student told you. The frat obviously is going to continue to hound you until you pay, if you don't pay, they may send the bill to collections.

YOU NEED TO GET THE UNIVERSITY INVOLVED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

itcheroni

macrumors 6502a
Sep 23, 2005
547
1
CA
UPDATE!!!

apparently my frat president said that i gave "oral consent" and he ILLEGALLY put my name on the lease. they say i owe $900 for the rent even though i was living 1.5 hours away. he doesn't believe that i deserve to get reduced rent (for the frat house) because i wasn't at the rush house enough (i can't afford the gas to drive up there). legally, i don't owe a dime right? i talked to a senior business student, and he said that the lease must be signed by me or its illegal.
Your frat president has committed fraud while you on the other hand didn't even have to pay your $200. In fact, you paying the $200 is probably more damning to you than your "oral consent" (which would not be enforceable) because the $200 showed that you intended to rent the place. Looks like you're in a good position. But like everyone else here says, go talk to someone at your university who can give you more sound advice!
 

j26

macrumors 65832
Mar 30, 2005
1,504
18
Paddyland
Your frat president has committed fraud while you on the other hand didn't even have to pay your $200. In fact, you paying the $200 is probably more damning to you than your "oral consent" (which would not be enforceable) because the $200 showed that you intended to rent the place. Looks like you're in a good position. But like everyone else here says, go talk to someone at your university who can give you more sound advice!
It's really unlikely a fraud would be held in this situation - it sounds like his name was placed on the deed by an implied consent.

It boils down that the frat president has to show 2 things;
1. There is a shortfall
2. The OP is the cause of that shortfall

Do get advice from the university, but there's no harm also asking the president to show exactly how he maintains that you owe this money. It puts it up to him to prove you owe it, rather than you trying to prove you don't (and looks like you're trying to be reasonable, which can mean a lot down the line).
 

itcheroni

macrumors 6502a
Sep 23, 2005
547
1
CA
It's really unlikely a fraud would be held in this situation - it sounds like his name was placed on the deed by an implied consent.

It boils down that the frat president has to show 2 things;
1. There is a shortfall
2. The OP is the cause of that shortfall
Not to sound combative, but what are you basing this on?
 

gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
16,534
3,132
UPDATE!!!

apparently my frat president said that i gave "oral consent" and he ILLEGALLY put my name on the lease. they say i owe $900 for the rent even though i was living 1.5 hours away. he doesn't believe that i deserve to get reduced rent (for the frat house) because i wasn't at the rush house enough (i can't afford the gas to drive up there). legally, i don't owe a dime right? i talked to a senior business student, and he said that the lease must be signed by me or its illegal.
I am not quite sure what he did when he "put your name on the lease". If there is a signature on some papers with your name, but not done by you, then whoever put the signature there could be in deep trouble.

I don't know US law; in German law signing in your name would be a document forgery which would be a criminal offence; in British law signing a document using whatever name is binding - but for the person who signed, not for the person whose name was used! On top of that, if signing under a false name was done with the intent to defraud, then it would be fraud as well.
 

j26

macrumors 65832
Mar 30, 2005
1,504
18
Paddyland
Not to sound combative, but what are you basing this on?
Which, the fraud, or the burden of proof?

Fraud is a serious allegation to make, it implies intention to make a profit from deception - the facts sound like he agreed to live there and the president merely took it that he was consenting to his name being on the lease. If he took the further step of signing the OP's name on the lease, then yes he has stepped into fraud (and most likely criminal) territory.

The burden of proof thing is pretty standard - if you say that I owe you money, you need to be able to prove it. That boils down to 2 questions - is there money owing, and do I owe it.




My background? Trainee barrister.
 

smokeyrabbit

macrumors 6502
May 19, 2005
327
0
Escape from New England
Our president called me and said that I owe him over $900 for the rent up there (even though I'm not living there). I'm only going to pay him that $900 if he agrees to give me fall rent for free.If he doesn't agree to give me free fall rent, and I refuse to pay, can they sue me?
It's pretty fruitless to sue someone for $900. Their legal fees will be higher than that. With no written agreement, they really can't practically come after you for vacating the house. Also, if you don't have $900, they can sue you all day long and even if they win, they won't be able to collect anything. Get some practical advice from an attorney rather than anonymous internet people in a different country.
 

itcheroni

macrumors 6502a
Sep 23, 2005
547
1
CA
Which, the fraud, or the burden of proof?

Fraud is a serious allegation to make, it implies intention to make a profit from deception - the facts sound like he agreed to live there and the president merely took it that he was consenting to his name being on the lease. If he took the further step of signing the OP's name on the lease, then yes he has stepped into fraud (and most likely criminal) territory.

The burden of proof thing is pretty standard - if you say that I owe you money, you need to be able to prove it. That boils down to 2 questions - is there money owing, and do I owe it.




My background? Trainee barrister.
The way I would interpret the situation is, that without a written contract, the OP has no duty at all to pay rent for any more than the time he lived there. He was a tenant-at-will. Although the president of the frat may have the contract, it is completely unenforceable. There is a clear legal difference between agreeing verbally and signing a contract. So even if there was a loss that was caused by the OP changing his mind, the OP owed no duty.

Are you in the US?
 

j26

macrumors 65832
Mar 30, 2005
1,504
18
Paddyland
The way I would interpret the situation is, that without a written contract, the OP has no duty at all to pay rent for any more than the time he lived there. He was a tenant-at-will. Although the president of the frat may have the contract, it is completely unenforceable. There is a clear legal difference between agreeing verbally and signing a contract. So even if there was a loss that was caused by the OP changing his mind, the OP owed no duty.

Are you in the US?
I'm in Ireland, and while the legal systems are different, we both descend from a common law (English) heritage, and share a lot of the same principles. US cases are occasionally pleaded in Ireland, and Irish cases are (very) occasionally cited in US courts. While the legal position may be that without a written contract, there is no agreement, equitable concerns such as estoppel (preventing a person from going back on a promise where another has relied on it and acted to their detriment) intrude, and ultimately take precedence over the legal position.

The facts ultimately determine where liability lies. My guess is that if the OP left the frat high and dry, he could be held liable, but if his behaviour was reasonable it would be the frats tough luck. My advice earlier was to get the OP to determine the facts - 1. is there money owing (i.e. prove to him there is a shortfall), and 2. how the president maintains he owes the money. They're vitally important facts - I can claim you owe me money, but without those basic proofs it's mere bluster.
You may be right on the tenancy-at-will, but did he give the requisite notice? Again, important facts are missing.

Of course, there could be different precedents in the US for this sort of situation, but I'd guess it follows a similar vein to other common law jurisdictions.
 

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
14,874
57
Legal is all nice and dandy, but asserting actual legal groundwork may interfere with the frat relationships -- making the frat president mad at you can make things tense for a long time.

Sort of like buying a car or loaning money to a friend, usually not a good idea if things are not in writing -- especially when thing go wrong.

However, with a lease and a leasing company -- if you find your name on a lease and never signed it, go nuts with the leasing company to get your name removed. Because technically you can still be dragged into court if the other deadbeats don't pay, since most leases will include a joint liability clause for payment.

Though I can almost see the frat signing and listing the pledges as residents on the lease, leaving the frat liable for payment if the pledges don't pay.