Do I really owe the assisted living center money, although my grandmother never stayed there?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 26, 2016
Stanton asked...

I need some help. We went to a assisted living center close to our home in reference to my grandmother. Upon signing the paper work , we left and it upset my grandmother so much I called the center back and told them that she would not be coming. They said they understood and now they are telling me that we owe for one month's rent. They claim there is a 30 day notice. I have emailed and emailed. Now I am being hurrashed by the collection agent telling me I owe. What should I do?

Expert Answers

A lot depends on what the paperwork -- the contract -- says and who signed it. The contract might provide for a non-refundable one month's deposit, which holds the living space so that someone else doesn't take it. If you signed the contract as a cosigner, guarantor or "responsible party" for the rent, the assisted living facility (ALF) could try to collect the one month's rent from you. If only your grandmother signed the contract, then the ALF can only seek the money from her, not from you.

The ALF puts these forfeiture clauses in their contracts so that they don't get stuck holding a living space -- meaning turning down someone else -- for awhile and then not collecting any rent for that space if someone backs out. But if you let them know within a day or so that your grandmother was not going to move in, they didn't lose anything -- they still had the chance to rent it to someone else. In that case, the forfeiture provision might not be fair or legally enforceable. If you'd like to get some legal advice about the situation, contact the National Senior Citizens Law Center and ask them to refer you to a lawyer near you who handles matters relating to nursing homes and ALFs.