Tale No. 15 Specialization sometimes means not seeing the forest for the trees…

In an episode of “Doc Martin” on PBS, Doc Martin observed that a colleague who had specialized saw every complaint in terms of her particular specialty and consequently failed to properly diagnose the complaint of the patient scheduled for surgery.

 Your editor was recently consulted about a rental agreement. The property manager rented a residential unit to new tenants at well below the market rate, and accepted the first month’s rent. The rental agreement was an oral agreement; the written rental agreement was not signed by the property manager or tenant, and further omitted mention of certain terms apparently included in the oral agreement, such as the use of one of the limited parking spaces.

The property owner was advised by a landlord-tenant lawyer that the oral rental agreement was valid and binding, and perhaps under the local landlord-tenant regulations it was. However, the attorney apparently failed to consider (he certainly failed to advise the client) that the Statute of Frauds renders invalid an oral lease of real property, as well as a contract with a duration of more than one year. Nor did he advise the client property owner that she could rescind and cancel the rental agreement on the grounds it was a fraud on the property owner perpetrated by a disgruntled property manager and complicit tenants.