Language of Real Estate

Void vs. Voidable

Void vs Voidable

A void contract lacks the essential elements to be valid, whereas a voidable contract is valid, except one of the parties has the ability to void it because of some wrongdoing.

Void — Having no legal force or binding effect; a nullity; not enforceable. A void agreement is no contract at all. A void contract need not be disaffirmed, nor can it be ratified. A contract for an illegal purpose (for example, gambling) is void. Under many state and local discrimination laws, any restrictive covenant that discriminates on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, marital status, or ancestry may be void (although the non-discriminating portions of the document in which it is contained may still remain valid).

Voidable — A contract that appears valid and enforceable on its face but is subject to rescission by one of the parties who acted under a disability. This includes such disabilities as being a minor or being under duress or undue influence; that which may be avoided or adjudged void but which is not, in itself, void. A voidable contract is one that is able to be voided. Voidable implies a valid act that may be rejected by an act of disaffirmance, rather than an invalid act that may be confirmed. For example, if a minor contracts to buy a diamond ring, the contract can be voided by the minor because of lack of sufficient age. If, however, the minor elects to enforce the contract, the contract is valid and the other party cannot assert the minor’s lack of age as a defense.

In cases of fraud against the buyer of real estate, the buyer may affirm or disaffirm the contract within a reasonable time after the truth is discovered. For the duration of a license suspension, a broker’s listing contracts are voidable because of his or her inability to perform contractual obligations.

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