Tenants Rights & Leases Signed Under Duress

Dear Prof. Wolff, I'd love to hear you discuss tenants rights on Economic Update. I don't know much about the history of tenants rights struggles in this country, but have recently moved out of San Francisco (where tenants rights are pretty strong- although not strong enough) to a county further north where tenants rights are basically non-existent. My landlord is forcing me to sign a 6 month lease extension or move out of my home in 9 days, and I realized this morning that this lease/contract is essentially void because I'm being forced to sign it under duress due to the threat of homelessness. How does our legal system deal with the fact that so many leases are signed under duress because the landlord-tenant relationship is so one-sided that tenants often have no real power to negotiate? Has this been argued in higher courts at any point in our history? I feel like this is such a basic legal standard, and I'm suddenly shocked to realize I've never heard it use to justify why renters rights need to exist in so many places where they don't. Thanks for your thoughts! ~Brandi in CA

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  • Sam Wardill
    commented 2019-07-02 00:24:00 -0400
    I’m pretty sure this practice (of threatening eviction if tenants fail to sign lease extension) doesn’t happen in UK but it is prevalent in Australia (where I now live). I think it needs challenging and a few cases where it is established as being a reason to void a tenancy.
  • Sam Wardill
    tagged this with upvote 2019-07-02 00:24:00 -0400
  • Brandi Chalker
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2016-09-22 12:05:35 -0400