What makes a lease agreement legally binding?

Other answer:

You need proper legal advice, ie, a lawyer.Your local Bar Association, on-line, can get you a referral.
This is because not only is the owner of the unit but of the(whole of) Condo Association is involved.Most if not all Condo Associations have retained legal help as in lawyers, as well.
Most Condo Associations have by-laws concerning sub-leasing or renting out of the unit by the owner(s).
I do not know what they are, but you need to find out what the Condo by-laws are from the Condo's HOA, not the person you are renting out from.
Never change any thing on your copy of a lease or other document . It is a little thing called fraud. In general, both parties have to agree to and initial it and date it of any changes.
The lawyers and the court can look at the copy the Condo Association has on file and the owner's.
There is no" public office for lease agreements, "that are on file. The lease agreement is only between you , the owner(s) and in this case, Condo Association.
Notarization is good but there are some legal documents, that are required by law to be notarized. Rental agreements are not one of them. This is because notarization is not required by the court or state law(s). Court document(s) like a petitioner for a dissolution of marriage(or a divorce, in lay terms) requires notarization.
When both parties sign the lease agreement, the lease becomes a valid document.

You need not have a notary public involved. A notary is not involved in the transaction in any way. The notary is there to make sure the person's signing the document is actually the individuals. They have nothing to do with the contents of the document.

Normally you would be leasing or renting from the condo owner. In most states you are not able to sub-lease from another tenant. It appears as if you are renting and have signed a lease with the owner of the condo.

The owner of the condo, now have to get the lease approved by the condo homeowners association. This would not be possible if you were sub leasing from a tenant.

No alterations or changes on the documents would be valid, unless the changes are initialed by each signer.

In going to court, each signers document should match item for item. If there are item crossed out on one document and are not crossed out on the other document, then the crossed out document has been altered.

I hope this has been of some benefit to you, good luck.


In my state it requires something of value (usually money) to be exchanged. But a contract (lease) can exist without being legally binding.

But in reference to what you are talking about, that call is made by the judge. But when your landlord pulls other leases from previous tenants all worded the same way, you know you will lose your case and may potentially be facing a forgery and fraud charges.

Long story short, my landlord is trying to back out of paying for utilities she agreed to pay for in the lease, two month after I moved in. She is a condo owner, so I am sort of sub-leasing from her. I just came to find out that after we signed our copies of the lease, she also deleted one other stipulation out of the contract before sending it to the condo building management to review and file.

So what makes a lease a legally binding agreement? Is there a public office it needs to be filed with or maybe there should be a notary present? If I change the rent just on my copy and go to court with my landlord over it, how do they know whose copy is legitimate?

The state is PA, fyi.

Thank you,

In Michigan you have to have a lease and all the renters (adults) should sign the lease (to help prevent squatters) and a down payment. My mom rents out a trailer and she always has the adults sign the lease and always adds in the lease "So and So + children if any" so that a 17 year old minor can't squat after being evicted. Then she charges a down payment of $600 and if they don't damage the house or anything than they get the money back after leaving (evicted or not) but if the house is damaged than she uses that money to fix it instead of taking them to court for damages.
any changes such as crossing something out- would need to be initialed by all parties. I would talk with landlord and if that does not go well then go see a lawyer or maybe move out and see if landlord comes after you in court. The court would decide if the agreement is binding on you and the landlord.
Your conversation with landlord should be as friendly as possible so you dont have the expense of court costs.
Signatures of both parties listed on the lease make it legally binding.
YOU get a lease to sign from the landlord

YOU moving in and paying rent is your acceptance of it (even if you dont sign it)

However most landlords require you sign a copy then return it to them

A signed written contract naming what you are paying for, rent accepted. A verbal contract is binding however proving it in court is another thing
There are several criteria that must be met. I am not going to list them. That is a legal advice question and only a licensed lawyer may give legal advice.

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