What to do about inconsistent expiration dates in my lease?
Question Details: I am reaching what I thought was the end of my lease term. Upon close examination of my lease, the dates stated would make my lease 13 months instead of 12 months. Everywhere else in the agreement the lease is stated to be paid in 12 month installments of a set rent amount. The only places that reflect that this would be a 13 month lease is in the length of the lease term and the total amount due. Everywhere else the rent is described as being a 12 month period of set rental installments. Is this agreement still binding despite contradictory information? It seems deceitful to hide in the actual terms in the fine print.
It may have been an honest error, not intentional deceit. When there are inconsistencies in a lease or other contract, a court will try to determine what the true intention is. Generally, handwritten or specifically typed in terms will overrule "boilerplate" terms that are part of a downloaded standard lease, since the specific terms the parties added presumably reflected their actual intent, while anything part of a standard lease could have been left in or not changed by mistake. So if the term and the amount of rent were added into a standard lease, they would control.
If everthing is printed the same way, then courts look to see what interpretation is best supported. If the money were only for 12 months, then a court would likely find that the reference to 13 months is an error. But if the term and the amount of money (total rent) are both for 13 months, then a court would likely find that is the correct term, since why would you have agreed to pay 13 months of rent for an only 12-month lease?