Anonymous asked in Politics & GovernmentLaw & Ethics · 8 months ago

Can you legally force someone into signing a contract?

I'm currently having a money dispute with someone who moved out--she refuses to return her copy of the keys and tells me that she won't give them back until I sign a contract promising to pay her the amount she demands. I can't change the lock on the door because it would mean admitting to the rental agency that I had an unauthorized tenant in the apartment without their permission (yes, my fault)

Now she's sending messages telling me that she found the contact info for the rental agency, and she'll rat me out if I don't sign the contract and pay her.

I know it was my fault breaking one of the rules on the lease, but isn't there a remedy against forcing someone into a contract that they don't agree with and fon't want to sign? It's almost like blackmail, except she's not threatening illegal actions.

18 Answers

  • 8 months ago

    Well, curtisports2 has it down very well. But if you change the lock you need to notify the owner beforehand.   However, how about you just quickly find another place to rent and just move.  Then she has nothing to use against you.

  • 8 months ago

    Your words leave things unclear. You say 'until I sign a contract promising to pay her the amount she demands'.

    There's an important distinction that needs to be made here. Do you owe her money for something, even if the amount is in dispute, and she is refusing to give you the keys until you sign a statement agreeing to pay?  Or, is she flat out saying that she won't give you the keys unless you give her money?  Because the second is clearly extortion. The first is just the wrong way for her to try to collect on a debt. The right way is to sue you for the debt.

    Telling the management that you lost your key and are willing to pay for changing the locks and there is no way they would know she was living there. And as soon as that is done, even if she goes to them, as long as she is not living there, they probably won't care. In the meantime, I hope you are keeping all of these messages. Tell her that what she is demanding is illegal and can put her in prison and you will go to the police if she doesn't stop threatening you. Once the locks are changed,  tell her that you no longer meed the keys - the locks have already been changed. You might even want to get one of those doorbell cameras. If she tries calling your bluff and tries to get in using the old keys, call the police and have her arrested, show them the video and her extortion attempt.

  • 8 months ago

    You might or might not be able to sign the contract and refuse to pay anyway. In some states, a contract is not enforceable if extortion was used to get a person to sign it. The rules vary from state to state, so you would have to ask a lawyer in your state.

    You could have changed the locks without admitting to the rental agency that you had an unauthorized tenant; you could have lied and said you lost your key or that someone stole the key from you.

    It's not "almost like black mail"; it is blackmail. Threatening to reveal a secret if not paid the money is blackmail, even if revealing the secret is not illegal. The practical problem is that you can't easily take any action against her for blackmail while still keeping this secret from the rental agency.

    One way to end things as quickly as possible would be to tell the rental agency the truth, so she no longer has a secret with which to threaten you.

  • Eva
    Lv 7
    8 months ago

    Signing a contract under duress makes it invalid. Call it duress, coercion, or blackmail, it's all the same thing. You could bring criminal charges against her for any of those. Why does she need you to sign anything if you're exchanging the money for her keys? Tell your rental agency you lost your keys and change the lock.

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  • 8 months ago

    No, you cannot force them to sign. You screwed up, deal with it.

    IF she's gone, they are not going to evict you for her being there because she isn't....

  • Maxi
    Lv 7
    8 months ago

    Blackmail is extorting money and that is exactly what she is doing and that is criminal....

    Tenancy and subletting is a civil a landlord if you were my tenant I would give you notice to leave if I knew you were in breach of the contract by subletting

  • Tavy
    Lv 7
    8 months ago

    Tell the Agency the keys were stolen or you lost them. The locks will then be changed.

  • 8 months ago

    Best to own up to your bad behavior 

    Suppose you sign the contract and give the money , what is to stop them from turning you in anyway. ??

    I suggest that you squirt  your lock full of crazy glue (or vandalize it in some such way)  and then complain about your lock to the landlord and even offer to pay for a new one.  But your former tenant/friend could still tell on you. 


  • 8 months ago

    Depends on what you mean by "force". It's not legal to threaten illegal actions. You can't hold a gun to their head. (And obviously, if you DID hold a gun, then even if the contract said "nobody held a gun to my head", then it would still be invalid.)

    You can *persuade* somebody to agree to a contract, by legal methods. Blackmail is not legal. I can't say if ratting you out is blackmail or not.

  • 8 months ago

    They can still trick you into signing one.

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