Mon 17 May, 2004 12:16 pm
I'm currently renting a house, but I do not have a signed written lease, just a vague verbal agreement on the length of my stay (1 year according to him, 6 months according to me - I have been there 5 monthes so far) and the monthly rent $$. I am in the process of purchasing a house and will be moving out of the rented house. What, if anything, can the landlord hold me to if he does not have a written lease? How much notice am I required to give prior to moving out? Thanks for your help.
Generally if there is no lease then you are "month-to-month" (aka "tenant at will"). Notice is usually expected for the same period you pay your rent (so if you pay monthly then you are usually expected to provide 1 month's notice).
Your landlord could try to claim there was a verbal agreement but he'd have a hard time proving that in court (if he tried to sue you). Most states cover landlord/tenant issues pretty well in state laws. Check your state's laws (search Google on "Tenant Rights" and include your state) for more specific info.
Since it is a verbal agreement you would probably be considered a month-to-month tenant (check with your State to find out for sure) but generally 30 days notice is required to get out of a month-to-month lease. Send a WRITTEN notice to him that you intend to vacate the premises (you really should get this sort of stuff in writing). If you generally pay your rent on the 1st of each month, then you have to give notice on the 1st of the prior month to when you are leaving - you want to leave July 1 - then you give WRITTEN notice on June 1 (mail it a couple of days before that).
Your landlord cannot demand future rents past the 30 days since there is no written lease agreement and he did not provide you with an exact tenancy period.
If you paid a deposit or last months rents, he may refuse to refund this money to you. It really does depend on how he takes the news you are leaving and the circumstances (eg. if he can get a new tenant in immediately). Either way, you are entitled to this money back, so make him give you something in writing, saying he refused to refund these monies.
On those deposits, demand the refund in writing. At least in my state, the landlord owes it to the tenant unless he provides the tenant with the reason for withholding it within thirty days.
I hope this is not too late.
Follow all the advice above and find some way to film or otherwise document the condition of the house on the day you move. Your demands for return of the deposit might be contested on the basis of needed "repairs."