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Tennessee Statute of Frauds Requires Leases to Be Signed By Tenant

A few months ago, I sued two former tenants on a landlord tenant dispute under a lease agreement and, in response, one of the tenants called to dispute her signature on the lease. She said she never signed it and that her ex-husband forged her name on it. Frankly, she might have been correct, because it certainly looks like her now-ex-husband did a really bad job signing her name.

But, I thought, there was no dispute that this tenant actually lived in the house during the rental term and received the benefits. Does a landlord have a quasi-contract claim in such a situation? Is it fair that she can receive the benefit of the lease, but claim no obligation because she didn't sign the lease?

After looking around, I was hit in the face by a pretty obvious answer: The Tennessee Statute of Frauds applies. Under that statute, Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-2-101, "no action shall be brought...upon any lease..for a longer term  than one (1) year...unless the promise or agreement...[is] in writing and signed by the party to be charged therewith..."

I still think there's an argument to be made that the non-signing party ratified the contract or somehow assumed responsibility. In a different case, with different facts, I may make that argument. Until then, the now-ex-husband has two sets of people angry at him.
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