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Know your rights: Landlord may require a guarantor

By By Richard Alderman
March 8, 2014 at midnight
Updated March 7, 2014 at 9:08 p.m.


My son is 19 years old and has a full-time job. He negotiated a lease with an apartment complex and they are requiring that I sign as a guarantor. Am I required to sign? Can they refuse to rent to him if I don't sign?

I cannot tell from your question if your son had completed negotiations and signed a lease, or if he was still negotiating. As you will see, this matters.

Basically, any landlord has the right to establish the financial guidelines for tenants. Even though your son is no longer a minor and has a job, the landlord may require a co-signer or guarantor if he believes that your son may not be able to fulfill his obligation to pay rent.

If he was told at the time he negotiated the lease that he would need a guarantor, that has become a term of their agreement and if you do not sign they do not have to rent him the apartment.

On the other hand, if your son had finished negotiating and signed a lease with the landlord without a guarantor, the landlord cannot come back and unilaterally change the terms to require your signature.

I signed a remodeling contract for $875 and paid in full. After the work was completed, the seller said he made a mistake and it should have cost $975. I do not think I should have to pay the additional $100. What is the law?

The law regarding a mistake can be very complicated. In my opinion, however, in this case the seller should stand by his initial agreement. I am sure that if you told him you made a mistake and meant to pay $100 less, he would not just give you back the money.

Generally, the law does not care if only one person to a bargain made a mistake. The agreement stands. The only time that a "unilateral" mistake (a mistake by one side) usually matters is when the other party knew about the mistake or tried to take advantage of the other person.

For example, if he just added wrong and you knew at the time you signed the agreement that the total was $100 too low, you would owe the additional money.

If at the time you signed the agreement, however, you believed that $875 was a fair price and that was how much you wanted to pay, my opinion is that you should not have to bear the risk that the seller made a mistake.

Can my wages be garnished for child support imposed by another state?

I am often asked the question, and the simple answer is yes. Although as a general rule wages may not be garnished in Texas, there is an exception for child support.

This includes child support obligations from another state. Most states have agreements with Texas making it very easy to enforce an out-of-state support order.

We own two homes. Our vacation home is paid off. My husband has a $15,000 loan that he has not paid. Can we be forced to sell our second home to pay off the loan? Can I just give the home to my adult child?

As you may know, your homestead (the house where you live) is protected from your creditors and cannot be taken even if you were sued. A vacation home, on the other hand, is not protected. If you were sued and lost, the creditor could force the sale of the property to pay the judgment.

Giving the property away to protect it from creditors generally is not a good idea. This type of a transfer would be considered a fraudulent transfer under Texas law.

This means the creditor could void the transfer between you and your child. My advice is to contact the creditor and try to work out a payment plan.

Richard Alderman, a consumer advocate popularly known as "the People's Lawyer," is a professor at the University of Houston Law School in Houston. His column appears weekly in the Victoria Advocate. Write to him at UH Law Center, Houston, Texas 77204-6391. He also maintains a Web page at peopleslawyer.net.

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