The Katy Perry Law, the Protecting Elder Realty for Retirement Years (PERRY) Act would give home-sellers aged 75+ up to 72 hours to change their minds about selling a personal residence, It is about to be introduced in several states.
The “Cooling Off Rule”
Have you ever known someone who wanted to cancel a contract to purchase a home because they have had a change of heart? I think sometimes people assume that the “cooling off rule” applies to real estate too just because they have the right to cancel a purchase of encyclopedias or a vacuum cleaner that they made in a weak moment at their home.
Interestingly, the Federal Trade Commission rules specifically exclude real estate from that three day cooling off period. Selling or buying a home is different than encyclopedias – and unless there is a specific provision in the contract allowing for cancellation, then the contract is enforceable.
The Katy Perry Act
The Protecting Elder Realty for Retirement Years (PERRY) Act, soon to be introduced in several states, would give home-sellers aged 75+ up to 72 hours to change their minds about selling a personal residence, The proposed legislation stems from a lawsuit against Katy Perry and her fiance, Orlando Bloom, filed by Carl Westcott, an octogenarian who founded 1-800-FLOWERS decades ago. Westcott, who suffers from a rare and deadly neurodegenerative disease – Huntington’s disease, agreed to sell his eight bedroom Montecito mansion to the celebrity couple for $14.2 million in 2020 but then tried to renege on the sale a few days later. He claims that when he signed the paperwork, his judgment was clouded by post-surgery painkillers he was taking.
Generally, any contract signed by a person who lacks sufficient mental capacity to understand what they are doing will be deemed “voidable.” The distinction between a “void” contract, or one that cannot be enforced by either party due to a legal defect such as incapacity, duress, or fraud, and one that is “voidable” is that a voidable contract can later be ratified by the innocent party if they wish to adhere to the contract’s terms once the legal defect is remedied.
Should Westcott prevail in convincing the court that he lacked sufficient capacity to contract with Gudvi for the sale of the home, the court will nullify the contract. A nullification would mean dissolving the contract as if it never existed, and perhaps assessing costs or damages to one of the parties to resolve any persisting unfairness.
The trial began on Sept. 28 and is proceeding without a jury.In addition to the property, Perry is asking for lawyers’ fees, $2.7 million to cover the cost of a similar rental in the area, and $3.21 million in damages for lost rent. Although Perry does not claim that she intended to lease the home, the damages are meant to estimate a dollar value for her damages.
Absent any contractual defect, agreements for the sale of real estate can give rise to a rarely-used legal remedy known as “specific performance,” which permits an aggrieved party to insist that a contract’s terms be carried out precisely as agreed upon. Should Perry succeed in convincing a court that the sale contract is enforceable and that money damages are insufficient to compensate her for the loss, she may be entitled to this remedy.
Another Katy Perry Lawsuit
The proposed Katy Perry law reflects her involvment in this lawsuit and an earlier suit against some elderly nuns. A few years ago, the singer won a case against elderly nuns over her attempt to purchase a former convent. In 2015 Perry approached an order of Catholic nuns in Los Feliz, CA, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She was interested in purchasing their Spanish-Gothic-Tudor estate and offered cash for the property. Although the sisters — most of whom were in their 80s — were not interested in moving, L.A. Archbishop José Gomez insisted that they vacate the property. Although the sisters fought the move, a judge ruled in favor of Perry in 2016 and she took occupancy of the home. Even then, the battle for homeownership continued until, in a post-judgment hearing related to the case, the 89-year-old Sister Catherine Rose Holzman collapsed and died while in court. Holzman had said in an interview that, “Katy Perry represents everything we don’t believe in,” and commented that “It would be a sin to sell to her.”