Does a lease have to be fully executed by both parties and delivered before it is binding?
I recently signed a lease for a duplex while it was being remodeled. It was supposed to be ready 12/01, however the lease said 12/15. On 01/04 the landlord said it was ready for me to move into and it wasn't. It was still dirty and had construction tools inside. He never gave me a signed copy of the lease and on 01/05 I gave him a letter stating that I was withdrawing my offer to lease the space and wanted my money back (security deposits and prepaid rent.) He says no and he's going to sue me. I offered to sign a new lease when he has properly completed the space; he said no.
A contract must be "accepted"--agreed to--by both parties before it is binding. Commonly, this acceptance takes the form of both parties signing the contract, but this is not actually required; for example, if one party prepares a contract or estimate for another, then then signature of the other party may be all that's necessary--the fact that the first party made the offer effectively shows its acceptance. Also, there is no requirement for redelivery of a lease or other contract--unless it says so right there in the lease or other agreement; the short answer then is that a lease may be effective even if not signed by both parties and not delivered back to the would-be tenant. However, the lease binds both parties, which means that if a lease premises is not ready on the agreed-upon date, the other party may have grounds to terminate the lease or at least receive some compensation (e.g. credit for the time it's not ready), depending on the extent of the delay and the seriousness of the cause for it not being ready. (e.g there's a diference between the premesis is dirty and needs another cleaning and it hasn't even been buillt)